Feds say Bayer colon supplement makes bogus claims

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government says Bayer is making unsupported claims in advertisements for its dietary supplement designed to help with digestion, in violation of a federal court order.

The Department of Justice filed a court motion Friday against the German conglomerate over its advertisements for Phillips' Colon Health, which claims to prevent diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating. Federal officials say the company does not have reliable scientific evidence to support those claims.

Bayer said in a statement it "is extremely disappointed and strongly disagrees" with the government action.

"Bayer believes that the product's benefits for consumers are fully substantiated and supported. We will defend ourselves vigorously."

Bayer is subject to a 2007 court order that prohibits the company from making unsubstantiated claims about its vitamins and dietary supplements. That order stemmed from an earlier federal complaint about the company's marketing for its One-A-Day Weightsmart vitamins. Bayer paid $3.2 million to settle those allegations and pledged to stop making unsubstantiated claims for similar over-the-counter products.

The government's motion highlights the company's multimillion dollar print and television campaign featuring "the Colon Lady," a spokeswoman who asks people about their colon health. U.S. consumers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the company's product, according to the government release.

"The Department of Justice will not tolerate companies that seek to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors by promoting to consumers unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of their products," said Stuart Delery, an assistant attorney general.

The government motion was filed in the federal district court of New Jersey with assistance from the Federal Trade Commission.

Bayer's U.S. headquarters is in Whippany, N.J.