A complaint filed in California federal court alleges a flu remedy product made by CVS Health Corp is little more than a sugar pill, Law360 reports. The product in question is CVS Flu Relief, marketed as a homeopathic flu remedy that alleviates symptoms associated with the flu. According to the complaint, however, the active ingredient is so diluted it is essentially nonexistent.
CVS is accused of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law and similar laws in other states, as well as California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
According to the package, Flu Relief’s active ingredient is Anas Barbariae, which is made of duck hearts and livers. Consumers are told that it reduces the severity and duration of flu symptoms such as fever, aches, pains and chills.
The complaint alleges Anas Barbariae is so diluted in the product that it is essentially a sugar pill. Allegedly, one percent is diluted in 99 percent distilled water and one percent of this mixture is diluted in 99 percent distilled water. According to the complaint, this process is repeated 200 times.
According to Law360, CVS Flu Relief is a generic version of Oscillococcinum, produced by Boiron Inc. The name-brand product has also been involved in litigation; a proposed class action similarly alleged the product is diluted to the point of ineffectiveness. In 2012, Boiron settled a similar lawsuit for $12 million. Under the terms of the settlement, the company agreed to disclose that the product was diluted and not FDA-approved. A 2013 lawsuit, however, alleges the company continues to mislead consumers.