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Missouri to Receive $150,000 in Settlement against Airborne Health

When a dietary supplement provider made claims to prevent the common cold, the Show-Me-State and several others said "show me". And now Missouri is one of the beneficiaries in a multi-million dollar settlement against Airborne Health Inc. KSMU's Benjamin Fry reports.

Attorney General Jay Nixon's office announced Tuesday that Missouri will receive $150,000 in the multi-state settlement against the Florida-based company.

A total of 32 states and the District of Columbia alleged that Airborne claimed to sell cold prevention and other ailment remedies without adequate evidence.

Nixon spokesperson John Fougere says these claims were made through the company's advertising and labeling.

"These claims are not substantiated by reliable or competent scientific evidence at the time the claims were made," Fougere said.

As a result of the settlement, the states that took part in the suit will receive a total of $7 million.

In addition, Airborne has agreed not to make any express or implied health claims in its marketing.

This includes the company's top-selling product, "Airborne Original", as well as any current or future products.

Fougere says false claims aren't the only reason Nixon and his fellow Attorneys General took legal action.

"Some of the health risks that they failed to mention were just part of an ongoing pattern, neglecting to mention exactly what some of the potential side-effects are from a health standpoint," Fougere said.

Fougere says the danger of side-effects is complicated by the fact that the company's labeling encourages multiple doses.

A major concern stems from Airborne's quantity of Vitamin A.

High levels of this vitamin can be toxic to certain people, especially pregnant women.

Side-effects can range from nausea and a headache to possible liver disease or coma.

Fougere says Missouri's share of the settlement will go toward upholding transparency between health companies and the public.

"The $150,000 will go into a fund that's called the Merchandising Practices Revolving Fund," Fougere said.

He says this fund will help pay court costs in future consumer-related cases in the attorney general's office, as well as support consumer education efforts.

For KSMU news, I'm Benjamin Fry.