February 27, 2006
At times Airborne outsells big brand names like Sudafed and Tylenol Cold. However, there is no solid evidence that this herbal remedy really works.
"Our sales are in excess of $100 million," said Elise Donohue, the CEO of Airborne.
They're flying off the shelves, but this new herbal remedy is taking some heat about its ability to prevent coughing and sneezing. Victoria Knight-McDowell, the school teacher who developed Airborne endorses it as a cold fighter. But Airborne's own CEO is now saying it's not a cure.
"We don't know if Airborne is a cure for the common cold," said Elise Donohue.
Yet it said right on the label to take at the first sight of a cold symptom.
"What Airborne does, is it helps your body build a healthy immune system. When you have a healthy immune system then it allows your body, on its own, to fight off germs," said Elise Donohue.
Airborne said they hired GNG Pharmaceuticals to do clinical research to prove it. But the trials were never published. Dr. Ron Turner, of UVa saw it on Airborne's website and he says it was bogus.
"It was not a trial that was done in any standard scientific way," said Ronald Turner, M.D.
Airborne recently took that study off their website. As for the 17 herbal ingredients, Dr. Turner said there still isn't any research to prove that those herbal remedies are the way to go.
"Many of the things that are in there have been studied under different conditions for common cold treatments and nothing has been shown to definitively have any effect," said Turner.
Airborne says the results are valid. The CEO says the best proof that it works is that 40,000 customers contact the company with positive responses each and every year. Because it is an herbal remedy, Airborne does not have to get the Food and Drug Administration's approval.