The makers of Infant’s Tylenol have recently agreed to pay $6.3 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged that the product was mislabeled and improperly marketed. As a result, customers ended up paying more for a product that was exactly the same as a lesser product. Consumers who bought Infant’s Tylenol at any time after October 2014 can now file a claim for their share of the settlement.
For years, Tylenol sold both Infant’s Tylenol and Children’s Tylenol. Consumers would logically believe that these were two separate and distinct products due to the differences in packaging and marketing. Infant’s Tylenol was sold at a price premium to Children’s Tylenol and the difference in price was substantial. In fact, the lawsuit alleged that the Infant’s Tylenol cost four times as much for the same amount of medication. Patients have paid as much as $9 for one fluid ounce of Infant’s Tylenol.
Infant’s Tylenol featured a picture of a parent holding a baby on the cover, leading consumers to believe that the product was especially for babies. Parents are very sensitive to purchasing the exact right product for their infants due to the effects that an incorrect medication can have on them. There is a perception that giving Infant’s medication that is intended for older children can have a negative health impact on them. In fact, there have been numerous reports over the years to the FDA of children dying from acetaminophen toxicity.
The products themselves furthered this notion. On Children’s Tylenol, the packaging stated that it was suitable for children between the ages of two and eleven. Infant’s Tylenol just had a picture of an infant on it and did not state any recommended age range.
According to the initial class action suit, Johnson & Johnson, the company that makes Tylenol, preyed upon parents who are scared of giving their infants too strong of a dose of medication. The company created the impression that parents could only give their child a version of the medicine that was tailored to infants. Then, they marked the product up 400 percent.
In the meantime, it was well known among physicians that the two products were exactly the same. The named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit was told by a physician at an urgent care facility that there was no need to pay more for the same amount of medication. However, the named plaintiff continued to pay more for the same product because they were still concerned about the safety of Children’s Tylenol.
The lawsuit alleged that Tylenol had changed the acetaminophen content of its Infant’s Tylenol product to 160 mg/5 mL. Prior to that, there were lawsuits against the company regarding confusion between Children’s and Infant’s Tylenol. After the 2011 change, the two products had the same exact acetaminophen content. The lawsuit also claimed that Tylenol made representations that Infants Tylenol was “specifically formulated for babies” when it was the same product that could be given to children up to the age of 11.
The lawsuit alleged that Johnson & Johnson violated numerous California laws regarding truth in advertising. The company was alleged to have engaged in deceptive practice to induce consumers to make purchases of a more expensive product that was not worth the higher price. The company was also accused of breaking various consumer protection laws in the state.
The litigation went on in California courts for roughly two years. In September 2019, the two parties informed the court that they had a settlement agreement to the lawsuit and moved that the court approve the agreement. While Johnson & Johnson continues to deny all of the claims in the lawsuit, it agreed to pay the class a total of $6.3 million to settle the lawsuit.
Class members who have proof of purchase for Infants Tylenol may receive $2.15 for each bottle that they purchased between October 2014 and January 6, 2020. Those who do not have proof of purchase may receive $2.15 cents for up to seven bottles.
When the settlement agreement came before the judge, he approved it with several changes. The judge elected to broaden the class of plaintiffs to include those who live outside of California. Plaintiffs have up until April 13, 2020 to file their claims for compensation.