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PBM Wins False Advertisement Case Against Mead Johnson

FBR Staff Writer Published 01 December 2009

Receives a favorable jury verdict and a $13.5m damages award

PBM Products, an infant formula company that supplies store-brand infant formulas to retailers, has received a favorable jury verdict and a $13.5m damages award in its false advertising lawsuit against Mead Johnson, the operating subsidiary of Mead Johnson Nutrition company.

PBM’s lawsuit claimed that Mead Johnson engaged in false and misleading campaigns against PBM’s competing store-brand of infant formulas, suggesting they do not provide the same nutrition as Mead Johnson’s brands. PBM’s store-brand infant formulas cost up to 50% less than Enfamil LIPIL.

The nutritional supplements under examination in the case are two fats, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid), which Mead Johnson calls 'LIPIL' solely for marketing purposes and touts as promoting infant brain and eye development.

PBM’s claim focused on Mead Johnson’s direct mailing to more than 1.6 million parents of an alarming blurry picture of a child’s cartoon duck next to a clear picture of the same image which suggested that anything other than the Enfamil LIPIL blend of ingredients is inferior and will result in poor eye and brain development.

PBM argued that these advertisements were false and misleading since PBM store-brand infant formulas have the same nutrients at the same levels as Enfamil. According to the company, its infant formulas are formulated to contain DHA and ARA, and are sourced from the same supplier in amounts which equal or exceed the DHA and ARA in Mead Johnson’s Enfamil LIPIL.

Paul Manning, CEO of PBM, said: “This decision by a jury of the people confirms that Mead Johnson’s ads have been false in suggesting that there is a nutritional difference between our store-brand formula products and their products, when in fact the only major difference is price. Despite Mead Johnson’s scare tactics, parents are assured that PBM’s formula products are as high quality and nutritious as Mead Johnson’s.”