July 25, 2023 – Investigation Closed, Lawsuit Filed
Thanks to everyone who reached out about their elderberry supplements. This investigation has been closed, but at least one lawsuit has been filed.
Any significant updates to the case will be posted to this page. In the meantime, you can read up on why you typically won't need to do anything to join a case like this here and sign up for our free weekly newsletter for more class action news.
You can also find our list of open investigations here.
At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
People who purchased certain Sambucol Black Elderberry products in 2019 or later and live in New York or California.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether Sambucol supplement maker Pharmacare US made false claims about the benefits of its elderberry products or otherwise violated federal labeling requirements. If so, they may be able to get a class action lawsuit started on behalf of those who bought the products.
How a Class Action Lawsuit Can Help
If filed and successful, a lawsuit could help consumers get back some of the money they spent on the elderberry supplements. It could also force the manufacturer to relabel its products and revise or remove any claims found to be fraudulent.
Which Products Are Being Looked Into?
The full list can be found below.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org would like to speak to people who purchased any of the following elderberry products:
Sambucol Black Elderberry Original Syrup
Sambucol Black Elderberry Sugar Free Syrup
Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup for Kids
Sambucol Black Elderberry Effervescent Tablets
Sambucol Black Elderberry Chewable Tablets
Sambucol Black Elderberry Pastilles
Sambucol Black Elderberry Daily Immune Drink Powder
Sambucol Black Elderberry Advanced Immune Syrup
They’re investigating whether these products live up to their advertised claims and whether they were properly labeled under federal guidelines. If not, a class action lawsuit could help consumers get their money back.
As they work to determine whether a lawsuit can be filed, the attorneys need to hear from people who purchased the Sambucol Black Elderberry supplements to assist with their investigation.
Elderberry Health Claims
Elderberry, also known as Sambucus nigra, has been widely used in supplements for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Manufacturers have made a wide range of claims on these supplements, including that they:
Boost the immune system
Shorten the duration of colds and the flu
Reduce the severity of cold, upper respiratory tract infection and flu symptoms
Defend against harmful bacteria
Contain ingredients that are “clinically proven” to reduce cold and allergy symptoms
The Sambucol Black Elderberry products specifically claim to have been developed by a “world renowned virologist,” and the supplements’ packaging and advertising are rife with statements touting their apparent ability to support the immune system and keep people healthy. On the Sambucol website, Pharmacare states that its proprietary elderberry extract is “recommended by experts.”
Research has called into question, however, whether elderberry actually provides any benefit to those suffering from the flu, colds or seasonal allergies.
For instance, in April 2019, the University of Sydney reported that eating elderberries could help minimize flu symptoms. Weeks later, the Australian university had to retract its claim after a report by The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the study was funded in part by Sambucol maker Pharmacare and involved no actual testing on humans or even mice.
Further, it has been reported as recently as February 2019 that no “large randomized controlled trials” have been carried out to date to determine whether elderberry is effective in treating or preventing the flu.
The National Institutes of Health has also spoken out about elderberry and its purported immune-boosting properties and made the following conclusions.
Research has indicated that elderberry may reduce flu symptoms. This evidence, however, “is not strong enough to support its use for this purpose.”
A “few” studies have hinted that products containing elderberry and other ingredients could help with sinusitis; however, it is not clear whether elderberry plays any role in this, considering that the products also contain other herbs.
Not enough information is available to show “whether elder flower and elderberry are helpful for any other purposes.”
Certain parts of the elderberry plant are considered toxic. Even if these parts are removed, the toxic substance could still be present on the plant and cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea if consumed in large quantities.
Sambucol Black Elderberry Reviews, Complaints
Several reviews have been posted online from consumers who’ve had issues with their Sambucol elderberry products or found that the supplements didn’t provide the immune support they expected. A sample of these complaints can be seen below [sic throughout]:
Taste is fine. Shipping and delivery was fine. Whole family took this during this cold/flu season hoping to ward off some of the nasty things going around. We all got sick anyhow—multiple times—with colds/flus that lingered on for weeks. Really hoped this would do something to help—especially considering all the great 5 star reviews. With the high price I can’t justify buying this without seeing results.” — SmartShopper, Sambucol Black Elderberry Original Syrup Review, Amazon.com
I ordered this with high hopes since it’s the ‘original’ Elderberry Syrup, but sadly, it tasted great (almost all sugar) but didn’t do a thing for my cold. I might as well drank water and saved the high cost of this overpriced ‘cure.’ Not to mention, they really milk you with the product, wanting you to take it 4x a day/2 teaspoons at a time so you can order more quickly (and they can cash in more). No, I had like with a Zicam Spray and Oscillicum but this stuff is like taking a sugar pill.” — Bigmac, Sambucol Black Elderberry Original Syrup review, Amazon.com
My husband and I both tried this. Wish we could have been in the 30% that is helped by Sambucol but we weren’t. Tried it as maintenance, tried it as coming down with something, tried it when sick - no help.” — kittykat, Sambucol Black Elderberry Original Syrup review, Amazon.com
Did not work for my kids. I decided to stick with it for 3 days to see if it was me. After 3 days of use, it did nothing. My girls still had coughs and runny noses.” — Sherrell, Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup for Kids review, Amazon.com
Didn’t do anything really... my little one got a really bad cough and cold 1 weeks after starting this, so it didn’t prevent or help.” — EB, Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup for Kids review, Amazon.com
I did not like the Sambucol Black Elderberry Pastille Throat Lozenges at all. They tasted like hard rubber. They did nothing for me. I just absolutely hated them.” — Victorian1, Sambucol Black Elderberry Pastilles review, CVS.com
If Pharmacare is making misleading claims about the benefits of its elderberry products – or is otherwise improperly labeling its supplements – the company could potentially be held accountable through a class action lawsuit.
How a Class Action Could Help
Class action lawsuits, if filed and successful, could help consumers get back the money they spent on Sambucol Black Elderberry supplements. It’s possible that consumers paid more than they would have had they known the truth about the supplements they were taking. Further, the manufacturer could be forced to relabel its products and change any claims determined to be fraudulent.