You’ve seen Airborne at your local Office Depot, at least that’s where I’ve always seen it. I also see it often in the offices of pilots, to whom a cold means a couple days flying a desk instead of a plane.

In 2008 the company that produces Airborne was slapped with a false advertising suit by the Federal Trade Commission, and penalized with a 23.3 million dollar settlement. In fact, anyone who purchased Airborne could have gotten their money back as part of the settlement. The lawsuit was brought to court by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

It is important to note that it was the FTC, and not the FDA, that tackled this scam product. The FDA does not usually test for efficacy (effectiveness) of products, they are usually only concerned with safety. In this case it was not the fact that Airborne is a scam product that does nothing for you, but the their deliberately misleading advertising that was be prosecuted. So they relabelled with suggestive rather than explicit descriptions and are back on shelves.

If you ever see a product that says “this claim has not been evaluated by the FDA” you have to ask yourself why. Wouldn’t it benefit that company to have their product verified and labelled as safe? Unverified products are a red flag to watch out for, especially the ‘herbal supplement’ and ‘dietary supplement’ loopholes that get a free pass through FDA scrutiny.

The most frustrating part is that I still have friends, SOME OF WHOM ARE NURSES, who still buy this after I brought the lawsuit to their attemtion. If you have successfully weaned someone off a scam like this, I would love to hear how in the comments!

↓ Transcript
ROB
How else can I say that airborne cold powder is a scam?
KATE
Try to be critical without criticizing.

ROB
How so?
KATE
Try this, explain it to me like I'm five.

ROB
Don't buy fake koolaid from poopeyheads.
KATE
We'll work on it.



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