Washington and Idaho are part of a $7 million, 32-state settlement with the makers of Airborne, a popular effervescent tablet invented by a California second-grade teacher tired of picking up colds in the classroom.
The lawsuit said that the tablet's touted cold-fighting properties “weren't substantiated by reliable and competent scientific evidence.” The company has settled two other lawsuits totalling $30 million over similar claims.
“Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold,” assistant attorney general Bob Lipson said in a statement announcing the settlement this week. “Not chicken soup. Not orange juice. Not fizzy tablets.”
The ingredient list posted on Airborne's website suggests that the pills are essentially a multivitamin combined with a proprietary herbal blend invented by that former teacher, Victoria Knight McDowell. The pills contain vitamins A, C and E, along with zinc, selenium, manganese, magnesium and amino acids. The herbal blend includes things like ginger, echinacea and forsythia.
The lawsuit also alleged that the company failed to warn consumers about potential health risks to pregnant women and some other users from an earlier form of the pills, which contained 5,000 units of vitamin A. That's been reduced to 2,000 units.
Airborne Health Inc. says that the settlement will have no effect on the product, since the cold-remedy labeling had already been changed. The company says the key ingredients in Airborne “have been shown to help support the immune system.”
“Airborne continues to be the number-one-selling product of its kind in America,” the company said, “and we appreciate the loyalty of our customers.”
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