Makers of Airborne Settle False-Ad Suit With $23.3 Million Dollar Settlement

Sorry if this is a shock to you, but apparently all of those so-called “medical” claims that the makers of popular herba-supplement Airborne have touted for years have finally come to the surface as being, you guessed it, a fraud. Self-labeled as the “Miracle Cold Buster” the company sold billions of units of their Airborne supplement products, all backed by a lovable story from second-grade teacher Victoria Knight McDowell and her screenwriter husband Thomas Rider McDowell. The claim was she came across this perfect mix of nutrients in an effort to not get sick from her students, a rather cheesy yet touching story to base a brand off of. Well, now she’s faced with angry consumers claiming their money back, settling out of court last Tuesday.

As for their so-called medical claims of it’s effectiveness, well, it turns out that the true validity of the tests conducted on the product fall in what I would consider a “very grey area” of legitimacy. Brought to light by an ABC News report from last year, it was discovered that their so-called reputable claim wasn’t as clear-coated as they tried to make it appear.

taken from the article:
“Airborne said that a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted with “care and professionalism” by a company specializing in clinical trial management, GNG Pharmaceutical Services.

GNG is actually a two-man operation started up just to do the Airborne study. There was no clinic, no scientists and no doctors. The man who ran things said he had lots of clinical trial experience. He added that he had a degree from Indiana University, but the school says he never graduated.

Keep in mind though, this still didn’t stop the product from being heralded by super-celebrities likes Oprah, who even went to the extent of bringing Mrs. McDowell onto her show to be interviewed as well as tout the benefits of consuming her “Miracle Cold Buster.” It did, however, spark an interest in 2007 by the Federal Trade Commission as well as a handful of state attorneys generals who then began investigating the medical claims that the brand had been promoting since it’s introduction in 1999. According to a NYTimes article, those investigations are still ongoing, however a class-action lawsuit was filled claiming the brand blatantly deceived consumers with false advertising. It was not until just recently (two days ago) that the case was finally settled out of court for $23.3 Million Dollars. In addition to that the brand will be required to pay for ads in Better Homes & Gardens, Parade, People, Newsweek, and a variety of other magazines and newspapers instructing consumers how they can obtain refunds.

David Schardt, one of the senior nutritionalist at CSPI reviewed the product and reported that “Airborne is basically an overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that’s been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed.” That should have been obvious, all the product contains is a variety of over-the-counter minerals with a heavy dose of Vitamin A.

Consumers seeking refunds for purchases of Airborne can obtain a claim form by writing to the Airborne Class Action Settlement Administrator, PO Box 1897, Faribault, MN 55021-7152, calling 1-888-952-9080, or by visiting

There is no way they can come out of this looking clean, especially after the print ads run, however I wouldn’t be surprised if they are able to bounce back to their current level of profitability (they claimed close to $100 million in 2006) within a few years once this blows over. That’s the problem with fake pharmaceuticals like this, once someone gets the idea that a product will lead to better health, it doesn’t matter others say, it all is just the placebo effect at work.
I guess we’ll just have to see. I’ll tell you this though, I’ve taken Airborne on multiple occasions so you can count on me filling out a claim form. What about you, do you think this is the end of Airborne as we know it?


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