Plaintiffs say you don't need "One A Day"

Plaintiffs say you don't need "One A Day"

Yet another class action lawsuit has been filed by plaintiffs alleging they were scammed by a dietary supplement.  In this case the supplement is pharmaceutical giant Bayer's One A Day vitamins.

One A Days come in many different formulae, each aimed at a niche market. And I do mean "niche."  For example, there are One A Day vitamins formulated for women, petite women, women who have (or want?) active metabolisms or active minds and spirits, almost-women (female teens), post-menopausal women, women over age 50, pro women, and women who prefer their vitamins in gummie bear-type form ("Women's Vita-Crave Gummies"). For the gummie bear afficianado, in addition to the women's gummies, there are men's "Vita Crave" gummies, sour gummies, gummies plus immunity support and regular gummies.  So if you are a petitie post-menopausal woman over 50 with an active metabolism, mind and spirit (or would like those characteristics) who enjoys both sweet and sour gummie bears and needs immunity support, you have lots of choices.  

Or not. The plaintiffs allege that all of these are distinctions without much real difference, as there is little actual difference between the plethora of One-A-Day products.  

They ask the court to certify a nation-wide class of consumers who purchased One A Day vitamins and allege violation of a number of states' consumer protection laws, false advertising and unjust enrichment. They seek not only reimbursement for consumers, but also punitive damages.  In addition to private counsel, they are represented by the Center for Science in the Public Interest

In fact, according to the plaintiffs, the average person doesn't need vitamin supplements at all. 

State and federal dietary guidelines and nutrition science experts all agree that (a) nutrient needs should be met primarily by consuming foods, (b) most Americans are not vitamin deficient, and they consume adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, and (c) for the most part, only those suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiencies (usually due to diet or health issues) benefit from vitamin supplements . . . These authorities also agree that multivitamin supplements are not effective for preventing or treating diseases.

The suit is yet another example of using the court system to resolve consumer issues that should be handled legislatively, as was the case with tobacco. This is not the courts' fault, or that of the plaintiffs or their attorneys. In the case of dietary supplements, Congress actually created the problem in the first place, through the its enactment of that great gift to the supplement industry, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act

As CSPI points out, Bayer makes claims for One A Day vitamins that are not supported by scientific evidence.  One example:

Marketing for other One A Day varieties claim that the products "support immunity." Such claims are designed to give consumers the impression that the products will help them get sick less often, or have illnesses of shroter duration . . . Bayer bases such claims on the presence of vitamines A, C, E, selenium, iron, beta-carotene, and zinc in the pills or gummies. But scientific studies prove that supplementation with those vitamines has no effect on adults' immunity in developed countries like the United States. Randomized clinical trials show that multivitamins do not affect the number, severity, or length of any illnesses.

Had Congress not allowed the confusing "structure/function"  claims to be made in the first place, and had it made dietary supplements adhere to the same standards as drugs for health claims, Bayer couldn't legally assert that these vitamins "support immunity" without telling the consumer just exactly what they mean by that and having sufficient evidence to back it up. 

But that's not the law, nor will it be as long as the dietary supplement sales continues to rake in billions for the industry.

Points of Interest 11/17/2014
Evil Knievel and Homeopathy

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