Friday, May 6, 2011

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Attorney General Abbott Charges Distributors With Unlawfully Marketing Dietary Supplement As An Antibiotic

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott obtained a temporary restraining order Thursday against Georgia-based Multimex Distributions Inc. and Houston-based San Martin Distributing Inc. for unlawfully marketing and dispensing a dietary supplement.

According to the State’s enforcement action, Multimex and San Martin targeted Hispanic communities while marketing a dietary supplement called Amoxilina. The supplement’s name is very similar to the Spanish translation for the widely used antibiotic Amoxicillin. Court documents filed by the State indicate that the defendants marketed Amoxilina to Hispanic families in an unlawful attempt to deceive them into believing they were actually purchasing the antibiotic Amoxicillin.

Media links

Defendant's dietary supplement packaging closely
resembles antibiotic medication packaging
Lawsuit against Multimex Distribution and San Martin Distributing
Temporary restraining order against the defendants

"The defendants are charged with defrauding their customers--and unnecessarily putting Texas children at risk. From the product's name to its packaging, there was a clear attempt to confuse Texas families and mislead purchasers into thinking they were buying antibiotics. Thanks to a court order obtained by the State, the defendants are prohibited from continuing to unlawfully market their dietary supplements," said Attorney General Greg Abbott.

State investigators revealed that the defendants attempted to further their marketing ploy by distributing their dietary supplement in a two-toned box that closely resembles Amoxicillin’s packaging. Both products are sold in sky-blue and white boxes – and both use red letters to show the product’s strength (500 mg).

According to state investigators, the defendants’ Amoxilina labels claim – in Spanish and English – that the dietary supplement is “without side effects and Naturally Combats Infection.” Multimex also prints a Spanish phrase on the back of the capsule membrane that states “(Cualidades Antibioticas Naturales)” – which means “Quality Natural Antibiotics.” Consumer complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office indicate that Spanish speaking parents purchased the supplement for children suffering from throat or ear infections because they believed that they were buying Amoxicillin.

According to one doctor's affidavit, parents incorrectly believed their children were receiving antibiotics. The parents' misconception about Amoxilina could cause doctors to improperly evaluate and treat the children or conduct unnecessary medical procedures.

Under the court order obtained Thursday by the Attorney General’s Office, Multimex and San Martin are prohibited from continuing to unlawfully market Amoxilina. The order also prevents the defendants from continuing to receive, advertise, offer for sale or sell Amoxilina in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).

The Attorney General’s enforcement action seeks civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the DTPA