Texas AG's lawsuit leads to recall of diet pills

Jessica M. Karmasek May 10, 2011, 1:32pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday that Georgia-based Multi-Mex Distributor Inc. is recalling dietary supplements that may be labeled as antibiotic drugs.

The products were distributed in the following states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and to the retail store and distributors in Indianapolis.

The announcement came just days after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged Multi-Mex with "unlawfully marketing" the supplement called Amoxilina.

On Thursday, Abbott obtained a temporary restraining order against the company, along with Houston-based San Martin Distributing Inc., for dispensing the supplement.

The State alleges that Multi-Mex and San Martin targeted Hispanic communities while marketing Amoxilina. The supplement's name, it says, is very similar to the Spanish translation for the widely used antibiotic Amoxicillin.

State investigators said the defendants attempted to "further their marketing ploy" by distributing their dietary supplement in a two-toned box that closely resembles Amoxicillin's packaging. Both products are sold in sky-blue and white boxes -- and both use red letters to show the product's strength, 500 mg.

Abbott's office said the labels claim -- in Spanish and English -- that the supplement is "without side effects and naturally combats infection."

Consumer complaints received by the Attorney General's Office indicated that Spanish-speaking parents purchased the supplement for children suffering from throat or ear infections because they believed they were buying Amoxicillin.

"The defendants are charged with defrauding their customers -- and unnecessarily putting Texas children at risk. From the product's name to its packaging, there was a clear attempt to confuse Texas families and mislead purchasers into thinking they were buying antibiotics," Abbott said in a statement Friday.

Abbott's order prevents the companies from continuing to receive, advertise, offer for sale or sell Amoxilina in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. It also seeks civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the act.

Consumers who have purchased any of the dietary supplements are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund, according to the FDA. Retail stores and distributors also are to return the products to Multi-Mex, it said.

For a complete list of the supplements recalled, go here.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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