Brown Announces $3 Million Settlement Over Misleading Claims that Multivitamins Can Reduce Cancer Risk

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN DIEGO - Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a $3.3 million settlement with Bayer Healthcare over its “totally unsubstantiated claims” that its One-A-Day men’s multivitamins are able to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

“By virtue of this settlement,” Brown said, “Bayer has stopped making totally unsubstantiated claims that its One-A-Day multivitamins can reduce men’s risk of developing prostate cancer.”

Brown joined state attorneys general in Oregon and Illinois in this $3.3 million multistate settlement. The State of California will receive more than $1 million for its Consumer Protection Fund. Today’s judgment also prevents Bayer from making claims about its products that are not based on sound and reliable scientific evidence.

Brown’s complaint alleges that Bayer knew, or should have known, that its advertisements made misleading claims about the mineral selenium, which is found in its One-A-Day Men’s Health Formula and One-A-Day Men’s 50+ multivitamins. The ads claimed that “emerging research” suggested selenium may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

In 2008, Bayer launched its “strike out prostate cancer” campaign that made deceptive claims about the One-A-Day products’ ability to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, according to the complaint. As part of the campaign, Bayer entered into a promotional relationship with Major League Baseball in which the company advertised its multivitamins during games and used Major League Baseball graphics and players to promote its One-A-Day products.

But there was broad scientific consensus that selenium did not reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and that assessment was confirmed in October 2008 with the results of a clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Health.

Nevertheless, Bayer continued to use the “emerging research” claim in television and print advertising until June 2009. In addition, the claim remained on the packaging for One-A-Day Men’s Health Formula products that appeared on store shelves until as recently as May 2010.

The Attorney General’s office monitors the conduct of drug and nutritional supplement companies to protect consumers from false and misleading information. In 2009, Brown’s office required Bayer Corporation to stop its deceptive ad campaign for the oral contraceptive, “Yaz,” and to spend $20 million to publicly correct misleading assertions about the product. Bayer claimed the drug could treat symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and acne – claims that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. See: http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/release.php?id=1677&

A copy of the complaint and the stipulation for entry of judgment submitted to the San Diego County Superior Court today for approval are attached.

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