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CVS to give refunds for AirShield dietary supplements

Under the $2.8-million settlement, CVS will stop claiming AirShield can fight off the flu and boost the immune system, the FTC says. AirShield is a store-brand equivalent of Airborne.

September 09, 2009|W.J. Hennigan

Pharmacy chain CVS Caremark Corp. will repay about $2.8 million to consumers who bought a dietary supplement that was falsely marketed as a product that could prevent illness, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.

CVS touted its AirShield tablets and powders as a way to fight off the flu and boost the immune system, but there is no evidence that the products could do either, the commission said. As part of the $2.78-million settlement, CVS agreed to no longer make those claims, and it has changed the products' packaging.

"Students returning to college campuses and parents sending their kids off to school want to take precautions to fight the germs that can cause coughs, colds and the flu," said David Vladeck, director of the commission's bureau of consumer protection. "But consumers should not be misled by false claims about the germ-fighting properties of dietary supplements."

AirShield is the store-brand equivalent of Airborne dietary supplements. Last year, Airborne Inc. reached a settlement with the FTC for making the same kind of "misleading claims," the commission said. The commission also has reached a settlement with Rite Aid Corp. for its Germ Defense products.

CVS issued a statement saying it had changed AirShield's packaging in 2008 after the commission settled with Airborne. The new packaging is "consistent with the terms" of that settlement, it said.

The FTC will contact customers who qualify for the refund.

Customers who bought AirShield products between July 2005 and November 2008 can be identified if they used a CVS ExtraCare card during the purchase or if they bought the product on CVS.com.

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william.hennigan@latimes.com

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