$1 Million Settlement for Homeopathic “Health” Claims
Homeopathic treatments manufacturer Heel Inc agreed on Wednesday to pay $1 million in a class settlement, and to ensure that its marketing avoided making excessive and unsupported health claims. A lawsuit was filed after consumers complained that the company’s advertising made claims that exaggerated products’ effects, and violated California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, as well as Unfair Competition and False Advertising laws.
As part of the settlement customers will be able to seek a refund for any Heel product that identifies itself as homeopathic, with a limit of $150 per item. Future products will also carry clarifying disclaimers that show the scientific backing to any claims. Heel products purport to treat a range of illnesses and health problems, including allergies and join pain.
Lead plaintiff Robert Mason claimed that Heel’s products – specifically Zeel and Traumeel – are sold under the misleading claims that they are clinically proven and made of natural ingredients. He also claimed that the products were not as effective as he was led to believe, effectively breaching warranties. According to the suit, the company’s statements that products were “doctor-recommended” failed to disclose that the doctors in question were in fact nontraditional and homeopathic practitioners. Mason also alleged that despite the nature of homeopathy requiring the intense dilution of plant extracts and agents, Heel’s products often contained not even one molecule of the primary agent.
Although Heel original mounted a defense, saying that Mason was attacking homeopathy at large rather than the company itself, the motion was withdrawn before it could reach a judge, and a settlement agreed. Heel will now stop using “natural” and “clinically-proven” without supporting evidence, and will only claim products are “doctor-recommended” if doctors are identified as homeopathic physicians.