Rite Aid agreed to pay $500,000 after being accused of deceiving consumers into buying its "Germ Defense" tablets and lozenges by claiming they could prevent colds or reduce their severity, the Federal Trade Commission announced.
The settlement comes nearly a year after the FTC reached a $23.5 million settlement over claims made in the marketing of the "Airborne" products, which regulators said could not be substantiated. Germ Defense is Rite Aid's take on the Airborne line.
Rite Aid's supplier, Improvita Health Products, Inc., also faces charges.
The settlement forbids Rite Aid from claiming the pills and lozenges can prevent colds, protect from colds in crowded places, reduce the severity of colds or lessen their duration.
A Rite Aid spokeswoman said the product line is no longer carried in the stores.
"Since we were notified of the investigation in March 2007, we have cooperated fully with the FTC," spokeswoman Ashley Flower told WalletPop.com
In agreeing to the settlement, Rite Aid admitted no wrongdoing.
Under the terms of the agreement, Rite Aid must offer refunds to consumers who purchased the product. The national pharmacy chain is required to post refund notices and offer prepaid postage for consumers to send back up to six packages of Germ Defense. The notices are required to go up in the cold medicine aisle at every Rite Aid store starting Oct. 1. Refund requests will be accepted until Dec. 31.
Can They Really Do That?
Rite Aid agreed to pay $500,000 after being accused of deceiving consumers into buying its "Germ Defense" tablets and lozenges by claiming they could prevent colds or reduce their severity, the Federal Trade Commission announced. For more unusual stories, browse through this gallery.
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