In July, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Morristown, NJ, said it would remove claims related to breast and colon health on advertising and labeling for certain Centrum brand multivitamin supplements, as part of an agreement negotiated with the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Washington, D.C. This agreement means that CSPI will not move ahead with a lawsuit it had planned to file against the company over those and other claims on Centrum supplements.
Labels for Centrum Ultra Women's and Centrum Silver Women’s multivitamin supplements stated those products supported “breast health,” while labels for Centrum Ultra Men’s and Centrum Silver Ultra Men’s stated those products supported “colon health.” In CSPI’s view, those claims of breast and colon health implied that the supplements would prevent breast and colon cancer—disease prevention claims that supplement manufacturers can't legally make. Centrum relied, in part, on the presence of vitamin D in all of those products to base those claims.
“For many consumers, a daily multivitamin is an inexpensive insurance policy to make sure that one’s getting the recommended daily amounts of important vitamins and minerals,” said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. “But supplement manufacturers must not mislead consumers into thinking that these pills will help ward off cancer.”
On labels and advertising for Centrum products that bear a claim for “heart health,”Pfizer Consumer Healthcare will add clarifying language that the products are "not a replacement for cholesterol-lowering drugs.” On labels and advertising for Centrum products that bear an energy claim, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare will add language clarifying that the products do not directly provide an energy boost, but rather help support metabolic function. The changes negotiated with CSPI were supposed to be made on Pfizer websites and advertising within 30 days of the agreement. The changes on product labels, however, will be implemented over the next six months as supplies of packaging are depleted.
“Although Pfizer disagrees with our position, we are pleased with the collaborative spirit with which Pfizer was willing to discuss our concerns and resolve them without resorting to litigation,” Mr. Gardner said.