Attorney General Mark Brnovich Sues Arizona-Based Drug Manufacturer for Misleading Consumers

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) announced Thursday that he had filed a lawsuit against RLC Labs, an Arizona-based natural thyroid tablet producer, for making misleading statements about its products.

“Consumers need to be able to trust what drug manufacturers say about their products,” said Brnovich. “Throughout my time as attorney general, my office has been committed to protecting customers from false or misleading statements.”

The Arizona Sun Times reached out to Democrat Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes for a comment on this case but did not hear back.

According to Brnovich’s complaint, the RLC prescription drug tablets in question include Nature-Throid (NT) and WP Thyroid (WPT). The medicine was used to treat hypothyroidism and was advertised to contain a precise amount of hormones liothyronine (T3) and levothyroxine (T4) as active ingredients. Specifically, each NT and WPT tablet contained nine micrograms of T3 and 38 micrograms of T4.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. The condition can lead to high cholesterol and heart problems if not treated. Roughly five out of every 100 Americans 12 years and older have hypothyroidism, which is more common among women. T3 and T4 are meant to replace the hormones not naturally produced by the body.

Brnovich stated that consumers who took NT and WPT trusted that the tablets contained the advertised ingredient amounts. However, RLC alleged underwent a manufacturing shift in 2017, and consumers noticed the thyroid tablets changed in appearance. RLC stated that the drugs did not undergo any formula change and the new appearance was due to new equipment.

Yet, in August 2020, the US. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested ten lots of NT and WPT and found six were “sub potent.” Some of the products tested had “as low as 87%” of the labeled T3 and T4.

Following these tests, RLC voluntarily recalled 483 lots of tablets, totaling 357,785,610 tablets. According to the complaint, RLC contacted pharmacies and medical providers to stop distributing the products.

Moreover, RLC assured authorities and customers that it had received no reports of “adverse events” relating to the recalled medicine. However, Brnovich insists the opposite is true.

“Contrary to RLC’s assurances, RLC had received product quality complaints from individual consumers via social media and email for years, and some of those complaints had reported adverse events,” according to the complaint.

Additionally, the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) allows consumers to report their experiences with medicine. In 2020, the FAERS received 85 reports involving NT, and Brnovich argues that RLC’s assurance of “no adverse events” omitted these reports.

Furthermore, as part of the recall, RLC offered refunds to clients and individual consumers for the products. Yet, individuals needed to go through their pharmacies or medical providers to get a refund. Brnovich argued that the “refund process was poorly publicized, burdensome, and confusing.”

Ultimately, Brnovich argued that by promoting the incorrect amount of T3 and T4, RLC falsely advertised to consumers, which violates Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 44-1522. He also said the manufacturer could have caused consumers harm by giving them false security that no reports had been made regarding the products when such reports did exist.

For relief, Brnovich asked the court to bar RLC from continuing its false actions, return all monies to anyone eligible for a refund, and pay the state a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each statute violation.

Anyone who has experienced consumer fraud in this, or any other situation, can file a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office here.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mark Brnovich” by Mark Brnovich. Background Photo “Courtroom” by Carol M. Highsmith.




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