Three Major Retailers Banned from Making Deceptive Glucosamine Claims

March 24th, 2015

A federal judge has given final approval to a class-action settlement that permanently changes how glucosamine supplements sold by Walmart, Supervalu, and Walgreens can be labeled. The approval comes after the parties in the lawsuit renegotiated the terms after TINA.org and others objected because it would not have adequately addressed the deceptive marketing issues.

Instead of banning the glucosamine marketers from using only six specific misleading words on the supplement labels for just two years as proposed in the original settlement terms, the approved settlement forever prohibits them from conveying the message that the supplements can repair, strengthen, or rebuild cartilage.

RELATED:  Glucosamine’s Promised Relief Mostly Marketing Hype

Glucosamine, marketed as relief for joint pain and stiffness, is one of the most popular non-vitamin dietary supplement sold in the U.S, with sales topping $700,000 in recent years. But scientific studies have shown that glucosamine is no better than a placebo in reducing the symptoms or progression of osteoarthritis, nor can it help rebuild cartilage.

WEB-Walgreen-Glucosamine-290x1661-150x150Despite this, Walmart, Supervalu and Walgreens marketed its glucosamine supplements, which are manufactured by South Carolina-based Perrigo, as being able to rebuild cartilage, support joint comfort and lubricate joints.

The original proposed settlement would have banned the marketers from using just six specific words — rebuilding, renewing, regrowing, growing, adding, regenerating — for two years while still allowing similar words, such as protect, restore, or repair. In exchange, millions of consumers affected by the settlement (all U.S. residents who purchased any one of the more than 200 products at issue during a nine-year period starting 2005) would have been forever prohibited from suing the manufacturers for false and deceptive advertising.

AARP on behalf of a class member also objected to the settlement.

This was the first of three unfair glucosamine settlements in which TINA.org filed friend of the court briefs opposing the terms of the proposed agreements. Read more here about TINA.org’s efforts to help consumers who purchased similar products. 

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