Walgreens facing class action lawsuit over ‘herbal’ supplements

March 3, 2015

A month after New York ordered Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and GNC to stop selling herbal supplements that routinely did not contain the ingredients advertised, one of the giant retailers has been hit with a class action lawsuit.

A month after New York ordered Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and GNC to stop selling herbal supplements that routinely did not contain the ingredients advertised, one of the giant retailers has been hit with a class action lawsuit.

Target, Walmart, Walgreens ordered to stop herbal supplement sales in New York

John Hollis is lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed against Walgreens by Bailey & Glasser LLP in Washington, D.C. Hollis claims the Walgreens brand Ginkgo Biloba he purchased for years was composed of rice and other substitutes, not Ginkgo Biloba.

“Customers bought herbal supplements that claimed to be Ginkgo Biloba, St. John's Wort, garlic, ginseng, echinacea and other herbs. But instead, the supplements contained rice, allium, dracaena, wheat and other fillers or contaminants - none of which were listed in the ingredients,” Hollis’ attorney stated in a release.

“Some of the substituted fillers and contaminants are allergens posing considerable health risks that should have been disclosed to consumers,” the attorneys stated. “These supplements are expensive, and consumers should have confidence that they are buying something beneficial, not worthless products that might actually contain allergens and other contaminants.”

In February, New York’s attorney general sent Walgreens and the other retailers cease and desist letters after an investigation found only 21% of the supplements contained the material listed on the labels.

 

Investigators analysis found French bean, asparagus, pea, wild carrot, rice, wheat/grass, and daisy, in addition to the herbal supplements Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, ginseng, garlic, echinacea, and saw palmetto.

“The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said upon releasing the investigation’s findings. “Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families-especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients. At the end of the day, American corporations must step up to the plate and ensure that their customers are getting what they pay for, especially when it involves promises of good health.”

Walgreens has not issued a public comment regarding the class action lawsuit. Hollis’ lawsuit may be the first of several targeting retailers suspected of selling supplements with fake ingredients.

See also:

Dietary supplements: Beware of fake remedies

Warn about herbal supplements risk