Lawsuit Investigation: Are Tylenol “Rapid Release” Claims a Scam?
Last Updated on May 9, 2023
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are no longer investigating this matter. The information here is for reference only. A list of open investigations and lawsuits can be viewed here.
- May 9, 2023 – Investigation Closed
- Thank you to those who reached out to help with this investigation. The attorneys have heard from enough people at this time and the investigation is now closed. If any additional information becomes available, an update will be posted on this page.
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At A Glance
- This Alert Affects:
- New York and Massachusetts residents who purchased Tylenol Rapid Release Gels within the past six years.
- What’s Going On?
- Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether Johnson & Johnson misled consumers into believing its Tylenol Rapid Release medication provides faster relief than cheaper acetaminophen products when there’s evidence to suggest that it’s no quicker. They believe consumers may have been overcharged and are looking to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of buyers.
- How Could a Lawsuit Help?
- A successful class action lawsuit could help consumers get back money they spent on Tylenol Rapid Release products and potentially force J&J to change how it makes or advertises them.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org want to hear from New York and Massachusetts residents who purchased Tylenol Rapid Release Gels within the past six years.
Specifically, they have reason to believe that Johnson & Johnson may have misled consumers about how quickly the medication works by claiming it provides “even faster” relief due to the gelcaps’ “laser-drilled holes” designed to “release medicine quickly.” However, one study suggests that Tylenol Rapid Release Gels work no faster than cheaper acetaminophen products and dissolve even more slowly than regular Tylenol tablets.
A class action lawsuit could help consumers get back some of the money they may have overpaid for the medication.
Study: Tylenol Rapid Release Gels Dissolve More Slowly Than Tablets
A 2018 study investigated five acetaminophen medications advertised as “rapid” or “fast-release,” including the Tylenol Rapid Release Gels, and measured how long the pills took to dissolve compared to their company-matched tablet versions. Dissolution tests are a commonly used method to measure “the quality and effectiveness of drug release from solid oral medications,” according to the study.
The test results concluded that the rapid or fast-release gelcaps generally took longer to dissolve than their tablet counterparts.
Interestingly, the authors of the study also noted that all the medications they tested passed the industry-standard threshold for dissolving fully in under 30 minutes, meaning they are “pharmacologically effective.” Because most drugs taken orally are absorbed in the small intestine (not the stomach), any medication that dissolves in under 30 minutes is “essentially as rapid as possible” due to the time it takes the stomach to empty into the small intestine, the study reads.
The authors also mentioned that there could be an “economic impact” for consumers who purchase rapid or fast-release acetaminophen gelcaps since they cost an average of 23 percent more than tablets sold by the same company.
“Rapid Release” Claims a Scam? Consumers Complain Online
Some consumers have taken issue with the Tylenol gelcaps’ “rapid release” claims, stating in reviews that the pills worked no faster than regular Tylenol tablets. Other consumers claim to have felt misled since the pills are not actually filled with gel but are regular tablets coated with a layer of gelatin.
Below is a sampling of complaints posted online about Tylenol Rapid Release products [sic throughout]:
I am very disappointed the product does not do what it says it only lasts for three hours and it takes about half an hour before it starts working. So I am better off with the regular Tylenol at least it lasts longer..”
— QXTBAK, 08/16/17, Amazon.com
Tylenol can help these all they want all they are is gel coated pills they are not Rapid Release no faster than regular Tylenol...”
— Jim1960, Amazon.com
There is no gel inside, there isn’t even powder inside, these are rock hard TABLETS with a capsule casing to help them go down easier, that’s all! They make it all sound so special, “laser” holes to release the medication faster, very misleading and annoying! The medication is just plain old acetaminophen in tablet form, but with the dosage raised to 500 mg each. No different from the caplets, which are just tablets shaped like capsules…”
— Great Cook, Amazon.com
…I honestly can’t tell the difference between the regular Tylenol and this rapid release. I have switched over to this version though in hopes that it truly does work faster. I alternate between taking Tylenol and taking Advil. If I’m taking a medication for swelling, I always take Advil.”
— MomtoBoys, Amazon.com
I can’t tell that these actually work any faster than regular Tylenol, but they do work the same and provide the same relief. You can see the dots where the “rapid release” openings are, but I didnt think they actually took effect any faster…”
— MyPenName, Amazon.com
These gel caps rapid release are not gel. I wonder why it is a simple Tylenol tablet painted red and blue. How can this pill be more rapid that regular Tylenol. Seems like false advertising to me.”
— Pierre L., Amazon.com
I think the rapid release part of these tablets is just get back. They don’t seem to work any faster than any other type of ibuprofen tablets.”
— catalina_eddy, Tylenol.com
How Can a Lawsuit Help?
A class action lawsuit could help consumers get back some of the money they spent on Tylenol Rapid Release products. It could also potentially force Johnson & Johnson to change how the medicine is made or advertised.
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