Bayer’s recent ad claims have become a headache for the German drug company. The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a lawsuit yesterday (Sept. 30) against Bayer regarding ad claims for its Men’s One A Day multivitamin. The product states that because it has selenium, it might reduce the risk of prostate cancer, which CSPI said has been proven false.
The nonprofit health advocacy group said it reached out to Bayer in June, asking it to alter its marketing materials following the results of an eight-month clinical trial that showed that selenium does not prevent prostate cancer. It also showed selenium may actually have harmful affects such as an increased risk of diabetes. CSPI added that Bayer threatened to sue for libel after the group spotlighted the alleged flaws in Bayer's claims.
"Bayer has been giving American men false hope about selenium in One A Day multivitamins," said CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson in a statement. "Bayer continued to run deceptive ads even after [the trial study] Select found selenium supplements weren't helping and might even be hurting."
Bayer HealthCare rep Eveline Martin said the company had been made aware of a lawsuit via CSPI's statement today, but had not yet been served or reviewed the suit.
Regarding the claims, she said, "Bayer based a portion of the promotion for One A Day Men's Formula on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's permitted qualified health claim that 'Selenium may reduce the risk of certain cancers.' The main support for FDA's permitted use of the claim was the data relating to prostate cancer. As part of our routine and regular processes, Bayer monitors developments in available science, as well as regulatory pronouncements relevant to the company's products and promotional claims."
She noted that the FDA changed its permitted qualified health claim earlier this year and as a result Bayer is in the process of revising the packaging and promotional materials for its One A Day Men's and One A Day Men's 50+ to exclude reference to the qualified health claim regarding the relationship between selenium intake to the reduced risk of certain cancers.