Demands Real Change to Deceptive Marketing of Popular Supplement
MADISON, Conn., Feb. 11, 2015 — Continuing its efforts to fight for settlements that are fair to consumers and mandate real changes in deceptive marketing, advocacy group truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org) has filed an objection in a proposed class-action settlement involving the brand-name glucosamine supplement, Wellesse®. Sold at retailers nationwide, the supplement is advertised as a joint pain remedy to ease pain and even rebuild cartilage.
Glucosamine, a component of the building blocks of cartilage, is one of the most popular non-vitamin dietary supplements sold in the U.S, with sales topping $750 million in 2012. But according to numerous class-action lawsuits filed against supplement makers across the nation, there is insufficient scientific support for these claims. Studies have shown that glucosamine, with or without chondroitin, is no better than a placebo in reducing the symptoms and/or progression of osteoarthritis, nor has it been found to help grow cartilage.
In the proposed settlement, the Washington-based company is forking over $3 million (divided among consumers and the attorneys involved) in exchange for promising to refrain from using just eight deceptive phrases and some related language on the product labels, but only for three years. At that point, the company will be free to revert to the banned language if it so chooses. In addition, while the settlement specifies changes that Wellesse® will make to product labeling, other marketing, such as its website and other online promotion, is excluded. Consumers who purchased the product, however, are permanently barred from suing the company over its marketing of the product.
According to Bonnie Patten, TINA.org executive director, “This proposed settlement is simply not acceptable. It’s asking the federal court to validate an agreement that permits defendants to continue misleading consumers with marketing messages that simply aren’t true.”
This objection is the second TINA.org has filed with respect to unfair glucosamine settlements. In November, TINA.org objected to a similar proposed settlement in a class-action case regarding glucosamine supplements sold at Walmart, Supervalu, and Walgreens, which was subsequently revised.