In February 2015, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sent letters to four retailers outlining serious concerns with their herbal supplements. Leading retailers GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens were all accused of having problems with their supplement labels. Among the concerns were that some products contained only filler, some products contained ingredients not included on the products’ label and some products did not contain the active ingredient listed on the label.
Herbal supplements are not as tightly regulated as pharmaceuticals, but consumers who pay to buy Ginko Biloba should get Ginko Biloba, not rice. Among the concerns are that consumers are not getting the product that they’re paying for and, by ingesting unknown ingredients, could be at risk of an allergic reaction or medication interaction.
Now, the New York Times (3/30/15) reports that GNC has agreed to change how it tests its products to ensure they meet or exceed quality control standards. GNC has more than 6,500 stores across the US and has maintained since the warning letter was sent that it stands by its products. The company will implement procedures using advanced DNA to test its products. It will also ensure to test for common allergens in its herbal supplements.
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Hollis alleges that several Walgreens supplements do not contain the herbs advertised and instead contain contaminants and fillers. At the time the motion for consolidation was filed, there were 10 class-action complaints filed against Walgreens. The plaintiff argues that more lawsuits will likely be filed.
The proposed multidistrict litigation is In re: Walgreens Herbal Supplements Litigation, MDL No. 2619, before the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.