Biggest loser in CAM for 2008


Unfortunately, the biggest losers are the people who were coned into taking a “health product” with insufficient supporting scientific evidence.

Airborne’s problems started in 2006 when ABC News revealed that Airborne’s only study in support of its advertising was conducted without any doctors or scientists — just a “two-man operation started up just to do the Airborne study.”

In August 2008, The Washington Post reported, “Over the past decade, millions of consumers, including Oprah, have come to swear by Airborne — fizzy orange tablets containing vitamins, herbs, and minerals that its makers for years said keeps cold germs at bay.”

However, following a class action suit against Airborne Health (Bonita Springs, Florida) the court ruled, “There is no credible evidence that Airborne products . . . will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places.”

Accordingly, the manufacturer had to change its packaging and marketing language.

The bottom line?

First impressions are the most difficult to erase. And Airborne continues to be sold to unsuspecting consumers.

For the record, Airborne is not…

  • “A miracle cold buster”
  • A “natural cold remedy”
  • And, there’s is no proof that taking it “at the first sign of a cold symptom or before entering crowded, potentially germ-infested places” lowers the risk of getting sick.

A summary of the lack of evidence is available here. It’s important to remember that Airborne contains, among other things, echinacea. There’s some evidence supporting echinacea, but not when used in combination with other ingredients in the Airborne formulation.
12/29/08 19:50 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.