A consumer alert about that popular cold remedy called "Airborne." We're
in the thick of cold and flu season and millions of Americans have it in
their medicine cabinet. Now, the maker of Airborne has agreed to pay
millions of dollars to consumers, after allegations, first raised by Good
Morning America, that the product is not as advertised.
Many consumers swear by the popular cold remedy.
"Airborne's awesome," says one. Another user pipes in, "It works. It does."
But the Center for Science in the Public Interest disagrees and joined a
class action lawsuit accusing Airborne of false advertising.
"The thing that bothers us about Airborne," says a CSPI spokesperson, "is that it doesn't work!"
An Airborne ad testimonial called it a "miracle cold buster," and a company press release boasted it would "get rid of most colds in 1 hour." The CSPI's representative says "Airborne is a waste of money. At best, it's an extraordinarily expensive Vitamin C delivery system."
When GMA sat down with CEO Elise Donohue for their original investigation, she
backpedalled. "I would never sit here and tell you that Airborne is a cure for the common
"You said Airborne is not a cure for the common cold. Did I get that right?," questions ABC reporter Elizabeth Leamy.
Donohue hesitates, then clarifies, "We dont know if Airborne is a common --is a cure for the common cold."
She also told GMA its product supports your immune system and offered the following evidence: "We have a clinical study. A double-blind placebo-controlled study," she offered.
So GMA went to the Florida address of the company that conducted that study. Turns out it was a 2-man operation started up just to do the Airborne study. One of the men claimed to have a degree from Indiana University, but the
school told us he never graduated.
Airborne says it settled to avoid further distraction and left this
recorded message for customers: "Defendants deny any wrongdoing or illegal conduct but have agreed to settle
But Airborne is not finished answering questions. The Federal Trade
Commission and several states are now investigating whether to punish the
Dietary supplements like Airborne don't have to prove to the government that
they work as long as they don't make specific claims.
Airborne now uses much blander language, but, of course, it became a
blockbuster with the old claims.