Boiron Can’t Dodge Arnica Supplement False Advertising Suit, Court Says

On Monday, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California denied Boiron Inc.’s motion to dismiss a putative class action over alleged false advertising of the quality and efficacy of its “Arnicare” pain relief products.

January’s complaint claimed that the supplement maker’s Arnicare products “do not actually provide ‘pain relief.’” Furthermore, the products reportedly lack U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, making them illegal to sell. 

According to the opinion, the plaintiffs argued that the key ingredient, Arnica montana, “does not provide pain relief, and is not effective in the treatment or improvement of pain” according to “numerous” scientific studies. The litigants also disputed the effectiveness of “homeopathic medicine,” which the pleading said bucked scientific consensus. 

Boiron responded that “[t]his is exactly the type of lack of substantiation claim that cannot be brought by private plaintiffs. And the handful of dated articles cited by Plaintiffs do not support their bare, conclusory allegations.”

In this week’s opinion, the court found that the filing stated claims for breach of warranty as the consumers claimed not to have experienced the benefits of Arnicare, but instead suffered physical pain and distress as a result. Considering the fraud claims, Judge Tigar ruled that the plaintiffs successfully alleged “misrepresentation, knowledge of falsity, intent to defraud, justifiable reliance, and resulting damage.” Boiron’s contrary arguments that the plaintiff did not properly plead their case were swept aside.

With motion to dismiss denied entirely, the plaintiffs’ claims for breach of warranty, fraud, and violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law will move ahead. 

The consumers are represented by Bursor & Fisher P.A. and Boiron by Dechert LLP.