(Toronto) An Ontario Superior Court judge has authorized a class action against Bausch Health Companies over false advertising for some of the pharmaceutical company’s cold remedies.
The suit says Bausch, formerly known as Valeant Pharmaceuticals, allegedly made false or misleading advertisements to consumers, including around five of its Cold-FX products.
Filed in 2019, the complaint states that the products’ packaging and social media profiles include statements such as “clinically proven” and “proven by science” to support the company’s claim that its products can help reduce cold and flu symptoms.
The Toronto-based law firm Tyr LLP says the allegations form the basis of the case, alleging that Bausch violated provincial consumer protection laws as well as the federal Competition Act and the Consumer Protection Act. food and drugs.
The class action includes anyone in Canada who purchased one of five Cold-FX products over the past seven years between 2017 and this week.
Bausch denies breaking any law or making any false or misleading statements related to Cold-FX.
“We stand behind Cold-FX products and intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these allegations. Importantly, there is no assertion of a safety issue,” Bausch Lomb spokesman Boyd Erman said in an email.
The defense statement expands on this position: “Defendants have never stated that Cold-FX products ‘prevent and cure’ colds and flu. Rather, Cold-FX products were accurately and fairly advertised, labeled, and marketed as having a “clinically proven formula” or ingredients proven to “help relieve” symptoms… by, among other things, strengthening the system. immune “.”
Bausch notes that Health Canada has approved Cold-FX products for sale as natural health products.
Bausch is no stranger to the courthouse.
In 2016, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge rejected an application to launch a consolidated action against Valeant over an advertisement claiming that Cold-FX offered immediate relief from cold and flu symptoms if it was taken over a period of three days, at the first signs of illness.
The judge ruled that the plaintiff failed to prove that there was an identifiable group of people making the same complaint, but did not reject the basis of the plaintiff’s claims.
The most recent certified lawsuit notes that the “active ingredient” in the cold products is ginseng extract.
“Although ginseng has long been touted as a natural health product to treat a wide range of problems, from erectile dysfunction to immune system impairment, its effectiveness has never been proven through rigorous scientific testing. It is not a “drug” under the Canadian Food and Drugs Act…and it cannot be sold for the treatment or prevention of any disease or abnormal physical condition,” the statement says. statement.
Bausch struggled to overcome legal issues for years, while trying to distance himself from his toxic past.
In 2020, the Laval, Que.-based company said it had resolved key legal issues dating back to its days as Valeant, agreeing to pay $94 million plus administrative costs for settle a class action related to alleged violations of Canadian customs duties and securities laws, all following the fall in Bausch’s stock price approximately five years prior.
In 2019, the company – once Canada’s largest company by market capitalization – announced a US1.21 billion settlement in a separate suit filed by US security holders on the same issue.