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Airborne settles lawsuit for $23.3 million

The herbal supplement firm will settle class action lawsuit that alleges false advertising; money will be refunded to consumers, non-profit advocacy group says.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Airborne - the herbal supplement company that once claimed to help fight off colds - will pay $23.3 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought against the company for false advertising, according to one of the groups that joined the suit.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit advocacy group, said the company will refund money to consumers who bought Airborne's product. It will pay for advertisements in major publications instructing consumers on how to get their money refunded.

"There's no credible evidence that what's in Airborne can prevent colds or protect you from a germy environment," said CSPI Senior nutritionist David Schardt. "Airborne is basically on overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that's been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed."

According to the company's Web site, Airborne was created by second-grade teacher, Victoria Knight-McDowell, who "studied the benefits herbal therapies used in Eastern Medicine." The site says Airborne "boosts the immune system with seven herbal extracts and a proprietary blend of vitamins, electrolytes, amino acids and antioxidants."

A recorded message at the toll-free number of the class-action settlement administrator said that Airborne Health Inc. has admitted no wrongdoing. Airborne Inc., Airborne Health Inc. and Knight-McDowell Labs are among the defendants in the class action lawsuit, filed in the Central District of California in U.S. District Court.

"Defendants deny any wrongdoing or illegal conduct," the message says, "but have agreed to settle the litigation."

A hearing to consider final approval of the settlement is scheduled for June 16.

Airborne changed their advertising campaign when a plaintiff filed suit against the company in March 2006.

That came after an ABC News report disclosed that the company's clinical trials were not conducted by doctors or scientists, but instead carried out by two laypeople.

Advertisements stopped mentioning the study and cold-curing claims and instead touted claims that it helped boost the body's immune systems.

In late 2006 the CSPI joined the suit as co-counsel against Airborne and in 2007 the Federal Trade Commission and an assembly of state attorney generals began investigating the firm's cold-curing claims professed since its creation in 1999.

Customers interested in more information about how to recieve a refund should log onto www.airbornehealthsettlement.comTo top of page

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