Summary of Action

Numerous class-action lawsuits have been filed across the country over the advertising of glucosamine supplements, all alleging that the various marketers of the products falsely label them as able to rebuild cartilage and support joint comfort without competent scientific evidence to support such claims.

In July 2014, the parties to eight class actions pending against Walmart, Walgreens, and Supervalu reached a proposed settlement agreement that would allow the companies to continue their false labeling in exchange for $1 million to be divided among the entire nationwide class (plus $1 million to plaintiffs’ attorneys and $800,000 in costs and administrative fees).  Under the terms of the agreement, the glucosamine marketers would refrain from using just six specific words on the labels (nothing a thesaurus can’t get around) and only for a period of two years.  After that, they would be able to go back to the original label, but the class members — all U.S. residents who purchased any one of the more than 200 products at issue during a nine year period — would be forever prohibited from doing anything about it, according to the terms of the settlement.

Because the agreement did not eradicate the deception at issue and was therefore unfair to consumers, TINA.org filed a brief in November 2014 as amicus curiae opposing the proposed settlement.

Subsequently, the parties to the lawsuit renegotiated the settlement agreement and, in January 2015, filed an amended agreement in court. The amended agreement prohibits the glucosamine marketers from conveying the message that its supplements can repair, strengthen, or rebuild cartilage (and is no longer limited to six specific words but rather extends to synonymous language as well). The duration of the injunctive relief was also amended: Instead of expiring after two years, the injunction continues in perpetuity (until and unless the marketers become aware of scientific evidence to substantiate the preexisting cartilage claims and the Court allows them to reinstate the banned language).

A final fairness hearing was held on March 5, 2015 and, on March 23, 2015, the Court granted final approval of the revised settlement agreement.

For more information about TINA.org’s position or to read the full brief, use the menu.

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(Latin for “friend of the courts.”) A person or organization that is not a party to a lawsuit but has a significant interest in the case and offers information that may be important to the court’s determination.

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