Heartless claim lands Walgreens in court

The nation's largest drugstore chain is being sued for false claims about vitamin E. Bottles of the supplement sold by Walgreens said the vitamin contributes to cardiac health. NIH says "not so much."

A California woman filed suit against Walgreens, accusing America's largest drugstore chain of falsely advertising the powers of vitamin E, according to naturalproductsinsider.com. The complaint, filed March 8 in federal court in Chicago, challenges a label on Walgreen's Vitamin E 400 IU Dietary Supplement that says the product "naturally contributes to cardiovascular health by helping to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation which may cause cellular damage."

Plaintiff Andrea Trujillo claims the representation was false and misleading because clinical studies show that Vitamin E does not work as the retailer advertised. She claims to have paid $12 each for several bottles of the stuff at a Walgreens in her hometown of Bakersfield, Calif. "Plaintiff used the product as directed, and consistent with the scientific evidence that the product is not effective, the product did not work," the complaint says, according to Reuters.

Walgreens declined comment to the news service. The company sells the Vitamin E product in 100-, 250- and 400-count bottles, according to the complaint. On its website where the product is available, Walgreen states, "Vitamin E naturally contributes to cardiovascular health by helping to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation which may cause cellular damage." Walgreens includes a disclaimer that FDA hasn't evaluated its statement, and the drugstore chain reveals the product is not intended to treat a disease.

Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant, helping protect cells from damage, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements within the National Institutes of Health. The fat-soluble nutrient is found in many foods. "Some studies link higher intakes of vitamin E from supplements to lower chances of developing heart disease. But the best research finds no benefit," states the Office of Dietary Supplements.

Trujillo's lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of consumers nationwide, or California consumers, who bought the vitamin E supplement and alleges violations of Illinois and California consumer fraud laws. It seeks to force Walgreens to pay damages, halt the alleged improper sales and launch a corrective advertising campaign.

In 2010, Walgreens agreed to pay nearly $6 million to settle FTC charges that the company deceptively advertised "Wal-Born"a line of dietary supplements similar to the Airborne cold-and-flu treatmentusing the same kind of baseless claims that the supplements could prevent colds, fight germs and boost the immune system. Last year, Walgreens netted sales of $71.6 billion. The chain operates 7,930 drugstores.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.