Deceptive Advertising

Eli Lilly and Zyprexa

A 2006 New York Times article revealed the existence of company memos and emails indicating that pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly concealed results correllating use of their antipsychotic drug Zyprexa with significant weight gain and increased blood sugar, both of which are known risk factors for diabetes. Emails expressing fears over Zyprexa's links to health risks had been circulating among employees as early as 1995. Representatives of the company had repeatedly denied any links between Zyprexa and diabetes since the drug was introduced in 1996.

Thousands of lawsuits were filed against Lilly following the Times article, including private suits and multistate, collaborative efforts by attorneys general and federal prosecutors. The company has so far been forced to pay out over $1 billion in damages.

"Eli Lilly Said to Play Down Risk of Top Pill" - The New York Times, December 17, 2006 - The original Times article revealing that Lilly failed to publicly disclose information about Zyprexa's side effects,

"Lilly to Pay up to $500 Million to Settle Claims" - The New York Times, January 4, 2007

"Bitter Pill" - Rolling Stone, February 5, 2009 - feature detailing the history of the development, production, and deceptive marketing of Zyprexa

"Lilly to Pay Massachusetts $22.5 Million in Fraud Settlement" - CNNMoney.com, May 18, 2009

Statement by Attorney General Martha Coakley on the Massachussetts settlement, May 18, 2009

See also:

"AstraZeneca Planned Off-Label Drug Sales in 2000" - Bloomberg, May 20, 2009

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca was revealed to have been planning since 2000 the marketing of unapproved uses for their antipsychotic drug Seroquel, considered to be a competitor to Zyprexa. While doctors are allowed discretion in prescribing medication for off-label use, such marketing is illegal.

 

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Yaz birth control advertising

Attorney General Bill McCollum of Florida led an interstate effort against Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals to correct misleading advertising for the birth control pill Yaz.

"A Birth Control Pill That Promised Too Much,"  Natasha Singer, The New York Times, 2009

Attorney General: New Terms Added to 2007 Judgment Against Bayer Corporation - McCollum's statement on post-settlement advertising terms, 2009

McCollum Announces $8 Million Multi-State Settlement with Bayer - McCollum's statement after a settlement with Bayer over deceptive advertising for Baycol, an anti-cholesterol drug, 2007
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"Miracle" Diets

Federal Trade Commission: Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads - FTC guide to avoiding dieting scams, 2004


In 1996, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and psychologist Lisa G. Berzins, who has worked extensively in promoting healthy nutritional habits and body image, drafted the nation's first statewide truth in dieting law, which was subsequently passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. The law prohibits companies from marketing claims about the efficacy of diets without scientific evidence and restricts their ability to market untested and unhealthy diets. Another law, which required fuller disclosure on the part of diet product producers regarding the time and expenses required by the product to take effect among other consumer protection regulations, was also supported by Blumenthal and Berzins and was passed in 1997.

News Release - Blumenthal Warns Diet Industry of New Disclosure Law, 1996

See also:
 
Lisa G. Berzins, "Protecting the Consumer Through Truth-in-Dieting Laws," Journal of Social Issues, 1999

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott joins the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration in advising consumers to be wary of health fraud scams and misleading advertising.

Abbott: Beware Dietary Supplement Scams and 'Miracle' Health Claims, 2009

 

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Kellogg's Settlement

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled charges with Kellogg Company over an ad campaign that claimed that children who ate Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats cereal experienced a dramatic increase in attentiveness. The settlement will prevent Kellogg both from making misleading claims in their advertising and from misrepresenting the results of scientific studies, in addition to setting record-keeping provisions through which the FTC may monitor compliance.

Kellogg Settles With FTC Over False Claims

, 2009


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Coke/Nestle Settlement

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a statement after a settlement with Coke, Nestle, and Beverage Partnership Worldwide regarding misleading weight loss claims in advertisements for their Enviga green tea product.

Attorney General: Multistate Settlement Resolves Implied Weight Loss Claims by Coke, Nestle Product

 

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Airborne Health

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett settled led a multistate effort against Airborne Health for deceptive advertising for their dietary supplements. Airborne's advertisements had made misleading claims about their products' usefulness in fighting cold symptoms.

Attorney General Corbett announces a multi-state, $7 million settlement with Airborne Health, Inc., over charges of deceptive advertising

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