Madigan, other AGs settle with Bayer over vitamin claims

Keith Loria Oct. 27, 2010, 1:25pm


CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, in conjunction with state attorneys general in California and Oregon, announced on Tuesday a $3.3 million settlement with Bayer Healthcare for allegedly misleading consumers about its multivitamins reducing risks of prostate cancer.

Bayer Healthcare allegedly used misleading claims that its One A Day Men's Multivitamins reduced the risk of prostate cancer, even though the company knew or should have known that its multivitamins do not decrease the risk of this cancer. Some studies show that high doses of some ingredients in the vitamins may actually increase the risk of prostate cancer in some men.

As part of its "Strike Out Prostate Cancer" campaign, in which Bayer partnered with Major League Baseball to promote the One a Day Men's products, the company used billboards, print and broadcast advertisements, as well as testimonials from professional baseball players, to imply that these vitamins reduced the risk of prostate cancer.

Madigan alleged the company violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act through its deception.

"Consumers rely on statements made by multivitamin manufacturers when making choices about their health," Madigan said. "When manufacturers, like Bayer, make marketing claims with insufficient scientific proof behind them, they are misleading consumers. This lawsuit ensures that Bayer must back up its advertising pitches with reliable scientific evidence."

Under terms of the agreement, unless Bayer can back up its claims with competent and reliable scientific evidence, it may not market its One a Day Men's products as preventing prostate cancer or any other disease.

The settlement further ensures that Bayer not make representations that its multivitamins are effective in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease unless the claim comports with applicable federal law and regulations, is non-misleading and Bayer possesses and relies upon competent and reliable scientific evidence in making the claim.

If Bayer does make any such claim and has the proof to back it up, it must also continue to monitor the claim to ensure that it remains accurate and make changes to its promotion and packaging within a reasonable time if necessary.

Under terms of the settlement, Illinois will receive over $1 million to fund consumer protection work, some of which will go toward consumer education and enforcement of the consumer fraud laws.

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