According to the old axiom, there is no cure for the common cold. Nonetheless, cold medications dominate the shelves of any pharmacy. While there may be no “cure,” pharmaceutical companies have made billions of dollars offering products aimed at relieving cold symptoms. At least, in theory. According to a class action lawsuit filed in the British Columbia Supreme Court, the claims of Canada’s best selling cold medication aren’t worth snot.
The proposed class filed suit against Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Afexa Life Sciences way back in 2012 alleging that the companies misled consumers into believing that the cold medicine known as Cold-FX could bring “immediate relief” for cold and flu symptoms. According to the complaint, the defendants commissioned research which they represented to consumers as providing “science” to back the product. While the research may support a claim that Cold-FX may reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of cold and flu symptoms, the science allegedly did not support the “immediate relief” representation. Moreover, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants omitted the fact that research participants took Cold-FX over periods ranging from 2-6 months and that prolonged use of the drug was necessary to experience any added benefits. Valeant and Afexa have since removed and representations regarding “immediate relief” from product packaging. However, there are still no disclosures about how long the drug must be administered. Back in February, the plaintiffs moved to amend their pleadings to assert additional causes of action for fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, and deceit.
According to a report from the National Post, the defendants filed an affidavit in support of their product in which the cited their popularity on social media. Apparently, Cold-FX has 24,000 likes on Facebook and 26,000 mentions on Twitter. One comment said, “Cold-FX is like some miracle pill,” and another claimed it “knocked my cold away.” Case closed.
We here at Abnormal Use are interested to see what will come of this lawsuit. As people who often find themselves falling victim to colds, we would sure love to find a product that actually could provide “immediate relief.” We assume nothing like this exists now nor will it ever be created. As such, when we see a product claim that it provides “immediate relief,” we take it as mere puffery. Of course, maybe they haven’t heard of the old axiom in Canada.