Airborne to Pay Millions In Lawsuit

So here is the question: if something works for you (like Airborne) but is proven to have no scientific evidence of its effects, do you continue to take it?

When I was a senior in high school, through my sophomore year in college, I used Echinacea at the first sign of anything. I don't really know if it worked, but it sort of made me feel better about myself - that I was taking action.

Over Christmas 2007 I became very ill with a fever for a few days (my mother brought a bug from Michigan), and a friend told me to take Airborne. He travels a lot and swears by it. I took it for awhile, but didn't necessarily see the value or get any qualified results.

Here are some quotes from today's Washington Post Article, Airborne Coughs Up Millions to Settle Suit by Annis Shyn:

"There is no credible evidence that Airborne products . . . will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places," said Lydia Parnes, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, which filed a complaint against Airborne's makers."

"Airborne, however, when used as directed does not prevent class-action lawsuits, charges of deceptive advertising -- or, according to the government, the common cold."

"Under a settlement announced yesterday, the privately held Airborne Health, based in Bonita Springs, Fla., will add $6.5 million to funds it has already agreed to pay to settle a related class-action lawsuit. That suit, which alleged that Airborne falsely claimed its products could cure or prevent colds, was settled earlier this year for $23.5 million.

Consumers who bought Airborne products between 2001 and 2008 have until Sept. 15 to apply for a refund for as many as six purchases, the FTC said. Claims will be paid by Oct. 15, 2008, the company said in a statement."

"Even if Airborne isn't doing anything for you, believing it helps," said microbiologist Stephanie Scovel-Toney, 28, of Fredericksburg.

"It may be mental, but it works for me," said Robin Roane, 46, manager of an Alexandria nonprofit. "I can't tell you the last time I had a cold."

So back to my question: if it works for you, but has no scientific proof, do you continue to take it? I believe that if a medication or supplement makes you feel better and does not do any harm (ie. Vicodin makes me feel better but is addictive), why not? There was a study that showed an expensive placebo had better results than a "generic" placebo in a trial. People thought they were taking a brand drug, and judged its effectiveness by the price.

Granted the Airborne lawsuit is over packaging and false claims: "It's important to note that this is a settlement over older advertising and labeling, and has nothing to do with public safety," said Airborne chief executive Elise Donahue. "We've offered a money-back guarantee for our products since 1997, and we have millions of satisfied customers. A class-action lawsuit sparked this matter. We're just one of many major consumer brands across America that are under assault by class-action lawyers."

So there it is. Airborne always has offered a money back guarantee and has millions of happy customers (sales were $100M in 2004 after an Oprah appearance).

So is this lawsuit frivolous? Do those who feel fleeced deserve their money back - sure, the company offers a guarantee on the label.

Should those that love Airborne continue to take it? Sure, if it makes them feel like they are preventing a cold, why not?

Should a doctor prescribe or recommend Airborne - definitely not.

I do not take any medications or supplements that don't have proven results, ie. my cholesterol pills. I get blood work done, see my cholesterol level drop, I know the pills work. I have a cold, I drink chicken soup, I get better, I know it works. Just kidding.

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