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Lawsuit: Nature's Bounty Ginkgo Biloba Benefits 'Nothing but a Sham'

Two California consumers allege in a new class action lawsuit that the makers of certain Nature’s Bounty Ginkgo Biloba supplements falsely advertise, market and sell a product that “has absolutely no scientific value in the improvement of brain, function, treatment of memory problems, or cognitive health.”

Allegations of false advertising, deceptive packaging

The 41-page lawsuit against defendants NBTY, Inc., Nature’s Bounty, Inc. and Rexall Sundown, Inc. alleges the entities took advantage of an ultra-competitive and lucrative trend in the supplement industry—not to mention violated federal and state consumer protection and business practices statutes—by claiming certain Nature’s Bounty and Sundown Naturals products:

  • Support and promote healthy brain function and circulation
  • Help “support memory, especially occasional mild memory problems associated with aging”
  • Were packaged into the “clinically studied dosage for brain function”
  • Help support mental alertness
  • “Improve memory, especially occasional mild memory problems associated with aging”

In no uncertain language, the lawsuit alleges the defendants’ claims that their Ginkgo Biloba products help improve brain function and memory health are categorically false. The lawsuit, citing “numerous scientifically valid studies, performed by independent researchers and published in reputable medical journals” conducted on the active ingredient in the defendants’ products, claims the supplements have no value when it comes to improving brain function or treating memory or cognitive issues.

Aside from how the supplements are advertised and marketed, the lawsuit also takes issue with the products’ labeling, which the plaintiffs allege plays a significant role in inducing consumers to pay a premium price for a product that is ineffective.

“[The defendants] specifically target the elderly by claiming: ‘ginkgo helps improve memory, especially occasional mild memory problems associated with aging,” the lawsuit claims. “Unfortunately, the promise of enhanced mental acuity and prevention of memory loss is nothing but a sham.”

Which products are mentioned in the lawsuit?

The case cites the below list of Nature’s Bounty products as providing none of their advertised cognitive health benefits:

  • Nature’s Bounty Double Strength Standardized Extract Ginkgo Biloba 120 mg (100 capsules)
  • Nature’s Bounty Standardized Strength Ginkgo Biloba 60 mg (200 capsules)
  • Nature’s Bounty Standardized Strength Ginkgo Biloba 60 mg (60 tablets)
  • Nature’s Bounty Whole Herb Ginkgo Biloba 400 mg plus 60 mg Standardized Extract (120 tablets)
  • Sundown Naturals Ginkgo Biloba 60 mg (200 tablets)
  • Sundown Naturals Ginkgo Biloba 60 mg (120 tablets)
  • Sundown Naturals Ginkgo Biloba 60 mg (100 tablets)

What does the FDA have to say about all this?

Unfortunately, since Ginkgo Biloba is marketed in the United States as a dietary supplement, there is no Food and Drug Administration requirement for manufacturers to test its effectiveness before hitting the market.

Who is covered by this lawsuit?

The case proposes to include California- and New York-specific classes of consumers who purchased the above-listed Ginkgo Biloba products within the court-appointed time frame.

(Note: One plaintiff in this action initially brought a lawsuit in 2014 over similar Ginkgo Biloba claims. That litigation was dismissed on March 24, 2017 without prejudice, this lawsuit reads.)

The full complaint can be read below.

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