Here in the northeast, every fall and winter, store shelves are packed with something called “Airborne.” It claims to be a cold remedy. Unfortunately for them, it’s not. It contains vitamins and herbs that do nothing whatever about colds … since as we all know (and the old adage goes) there is no cure for the common cold. Because this product contains no medicine and doesn’t do what its makers claim, a class-action suit was filed against them (which they settled earlier this year for $23.5 million). The Federal Trade Commission also went after them; the remedy’s makers just reached a settlement with them, kicking in an additional $6.5 million:

The company that promoted the dietary supplement Airborne as a “miracle cold buster” yesterday cut a deal with the feds, agreeing to pay up to $30 million to settle charges that it didn’t have evidence to back up its advertising claims.

“There is no credible evidence that Airborne products, taken as directed, will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places,” the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said in a statement yesterday.

The government and the nation’s trial bar have been, prior to this year, willing accomplices in the swindling of America by makers of “alternative medicines.” Hopefully these two precedents against Airborne will mark a new approach to these “remedies” — which actually cure nothing since they contain no medicine.

The case against Airborne was particularly potent, however, given the claims the company made about their product and the manner in which they marketed it. It was egregious enough that even the “alternative medicine” collaborators in government and the legal profession could no longer ignore it, and they finally took action.

Unfortunately, the total $30 million payout is minuscule compared with the company’s revenues, and these settlements do not shut the company down. I don’t doubt that Airborne will be back on store shelves in a couple of months, and bought by the cartful by Americans too stupid and gullible to realize the product does absolutely nothing for them.

Americans generally do not understand that “alternative medicine” has never, ever wiped out any disease … as the often-derided conventional medicine has done (e.g. smallpox, which is no more; polio is almost gone as well). “Alternative medicine” also cannot cure broken limbs — it’s much better to go to a conventional-medical emergency room and have the bone set and put in a cast. “Alternative medicine,” furthermore, cannot revive people who’ve had heart attacks or strokes; it cannot cure infections (conventional-medicine antibiotics, however, will do that very well); it cannot peer inside the body to diagnose other ailments (conventional medicine, on the other hand, has several radiological means to do so). There are numerous ailments and injuries which “alternative medicine” can do absolutely nothing about, much less even find them in the first place (heart defect? can’t find those without a conventional-medical EKG!).

Yet many Americans continue to have faith in “alternative medicine” and whine about how conventional medicine is profit-driven. Well, excuse me … but did you know that Airborne’s revenues are in the hundreds of millions of dollars a year? No profit motive??? Yeah right.

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