Still no cure for the common cold: FTC busts third retailer for pushing 'germ-fighting' supplements


CVS agreed to pay $2.8 million in consumer refunds and stop claiming that its knock-off "AirShield" supplement can fight germs, help battle colds or boost the immune system, the Federal Trade Commission said.

The settlement of charges lodged by the FTC is the third similar case, following settlements by Rite Aid and the company that makes "Airborne." Rite Aid's marketing of its version of the supplement, "Germ Defense," cost that company $500,000 -- a drop in the bucket compared to the $23.5 million paid by Airborne Health Inc.

"Consumers should not be misled by false claims about the germ-fighting properties of dietary supplements," FTC Consumer Protection director David Vladeck said in a written statement. "With orders against Airborne, Rite Aid, and the one proposed against CVS, manufacturers and retailers are on notice that they have to tell the truth about what dietary supplements can and cannot do."

All three companies were charged with making false and deceptive advertising claims in the marketing of the popular supplements. All have changed their packaging.

"Airborne" now markets its product using the toned-down "Helps support your immune system," without making any health claims.