A proposed class action alleges the packaging of certain Ricola cough drops is deceptive in that the herbs displayed thereon are not the source of the product’s therapeutic effects as consumers are led to believe.
The 15-page lawsuit in Illinois says that although the packaging for the Ricola cough drops at issue displays images of 10 herbs along with statements such as “Made with Swiss Alpine herbs,” “cough suppressant,” “oral anesthetic” and “effective relief,” none of these herbs are responsible for the product’s effects.
According to the lawsuit, the Ricola drug facts panel reveals that the herbs are all inactive ingredients, and that menthol is the only active ingredient in each cough drop.
“Consumers seeing the Product’s front label will expect its cough suppressant and oral anesthetic functionality will be provided by its herbal ingredients,” the complaint contends. “It is false, deceptive and misleading to claim or imply that the Product’s inactive ingredients will provide a therapeutic benefit.”
Per the lawsuit, consumers have increasingly sought out herbal products as opposed to those with synthetic ingredients. The suit states that the COVID-19 pandemic has “further increased consumer adoption of products containing herbal ingredients as another layer of protection from this disease.”
The case charges that although competitor products contain ingredients that are “substantially similar” to those in the Ricola cough drops, only Ricola’s product packaging “conveys the message that its herbal ingredients are responsible for the cough suppressant and oral anesthetic properties it provides.”
“Competitor herbal lozenges from Meijer, Target, Dollar General, and Walmart, do not represent to consumers that their herbal ingredients are responsible for its therapeutic effects, by disclosing the presence of menthol on their front labels, i.e., ‘4.8 mg Menthol Per Drop’ and ‘Menthol Cough Suppressant.’”
The lawsuit says that the value of the Ricola cough drops at issue is “materially less” than the product’s value as represented by defendant Ricola USA, Inc.
The suit looks to represent consumers in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Montana, Virginia, New Mexico, Arkansas, Maine, Wyoming, North Dakota and Utah who bought Ricola cough suppressant and oral anesthetic lozenges “Made with Swiss Alpine Herbs” during the applicable statute of limitations period.
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