The Center for Science in the Public Interest is poised to sue Bayer – again – over the giant pharma company's claims for its One A Day multivitamins. The pills won't prevent breast cancer, heart disease or other conditions, said the non profit, whose lawyers notified the German company last week that they would file suit for violating state consumer protection laws unless they remove the claims from their marketing. Attorney Marc Ullman noted the action in the Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman newsletter.
"By positioning One A Day as a preventive for breast cancer, heart disease, and other conditions, Bayer is thumbing its nose at the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, and a dozen or so state attorneys general—continuing a decade-long spree of irresponsible and sometimes felonious behavior," said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner in a release. "There's nothing wrong with selling—or taking—a daily multivitamin. But you can't sell something you can't deliver."
Supplement manufacturers are prohibited from making disease-prevention claims.
"Bayer is literally putting One A Day multivitamins on a par with mammograms," said Gardner, in reference to material on the company's website that lists tips for avoiding breast cancer including mammograms, self-exams and taking One A Day. "Bayer is saying: 'Take these pills and you'll reduce your risk of breast cancer.' And elsewhere, when the company says it 'supports breast health,' it knows full well that cancer is far and away the top breast health issue for women, " he said. CSPI cites similar claims made that One A Day supports heart health and healthy blood pressure.
In 2009, CSPI filed suit against Bayer over its claims that One A Day Men's multivitamins with selenium might reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, the largest prostate cancer prevention trial ever conducted was abandoned once it became clear that selenium was no more effective as reducing prostate cancer risk than a placebo. In 2010, Bayer settled with a group of state attorney general who accused them of deceptively leveraging fear of prostate cancer in order to market One A Day to men. That settlement agreement prohibited the German pharmaceutical giant from claiming that One A Day multivitamins may cure, treat, or prevent any disease, including cancer, unless the company can back up its claims with reliable scientific evidence.