CVS Hit With "Sugar Pill Remedy" Suit

A putative class action lawsuit was recently filed against CVS Health Corp. (“CVS” or the “Company”). Plaintiff, Heather Saal (“Saal” or the “Plaintiff”), claimed the deceptive packaging on CVS Flu Relief (“CVS Flu Relief” or the “Product”) misled her to purchase the Product which are essentially sugar pills. The suit, filed in the Northern District of California, asserted violations under various statutes, including the Business and Professions Code and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and seeks declaratory relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 2201.

Plaintiff purchased a box of CVS Flu Relief hoping it would help remedy unpleasant symptoms she was experiencing that were triggered by a virus. The packaging seemed attractive enough – the box stated the product would “temporarily relieve flu-like symptoms.” However, upon further scrutiny, Plaintiff discovered that the Product’s sole active ingredient was incredibly diluted and “based upon basic principles of chemistry and physics,” the Product could not reasonably provide relief of flu symptoms. According to the Complaint, CVS diluted the one active ingredient, Anas Barbariae, in a solution that was 1% active ingredient and 99% water. Due to the dilution process, Plaintiff alleged that “there [was] no mathematical/statistical probability that even a single molecule of the original substance, Anas Barbariae, [was] in the final dilution.” Saal claimed that had she known that what she was purchasing was essentially a sugar pill, she would have never made the purchase. Moreover, she asserted that more consumers will be misled if CVS is not compelled to change its Product packaging.

CVS Flu Relief is a generic version of another product produced by Boiron, Inc. (“Boiron”), a company that is embroiled in its own controversies. A class action had been brought against Boiron for its product, Oscillococcinum, because Boiron had purportedly failed to disclose that the product was not a homeopathic remedy approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Boiron settled that case for $12 million in 2012.

The legal team at SFMS has significant experience litigating class action matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact Alec Berin ( or Chiharu Sekino ( We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

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Case No.: 3:16-cv-00968, Complaint (Document 1)

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