If you’re taking Tylenol PM to help you fall asleep at night, you may be getting sleepy based simply on a placebo effect. A recently filed class action lawsuit is attacking the makers of Tylenol PM, claiming the company deceives customers by marketing the drug as a nighttime sleep aid, despite having “no competent and reliable clinical tests” to prove these claims.
The class action lawsuit claims McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson, lies about the fact that the active ingredients in its over-the-counter painkiller — acetaminophen and diphenhydramine — are a “sleep aid” that will give consumers a “good night’s rest.” However, a letter written to McNeil by the head of the Food and Drug Administration states: “[T]here is an insufficient basis to support the combination of [these properties] as a nighttime sleep aid for relief of occasional sleeplessness when associated with minor aches and pains.” Another expert in the over-the-counter health industry is also quoted in the lawsuit as stating that diphenhydramine was “never designed to be a sleep aid or analgesic.”
“[McNeil’s] misleading marketing campaign begins with a deceptive name — Tylenol PM — as it implies that it will make you sleepy. [McNeil’s] exhaustive advertising campaign builds on this deception,” the class action lawsuit says. “In addition, [McNeil] has no competent and reliable support for these claims, even though it states that it does, going so far as to claim it has clinical proof.”
Not having competent and reliable scientific proof for their marketing claims is in direct violation of FTC rules, the lawsuit says. The class action is seeking to represent all persons who purchased Tylenol PM in the State of Florida and is alleging violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and Breach of Express Warranty. It is seeking damages and restitution for all class members, in addition to an order requiring McNeil to engage in a “corrective advertising campaign.” A copy of the class action lawsuit can be found here.
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