Merck will settle Coppertone class action

Company has agreed to pay between $3 million and $10 million to settle false-advertising suit

Consumers who may have been burned—literally—by Coppertone’s so-called long-lasting sunscreens will finally get some relief.

Last Friday, Merck & Co. agreed to pay between $3 million and $10 million to settle a 2003 class action lawsuit in which consumers claimed Schering-Plough Corp. made false claims about the longevity and effectiveness of its Coppertone products. Merck acquired the Coppertone line and inherited the lawsuit when it acquired Schering-Plough in 2009.

In the settlement agreement, Merck says it agreed to settle “solely for the purpose of avoiding the burden, expense, risk and uncertainty of continuing to litigate those issues.” As part of the settlement, Merck will stop using the terms “sunblock,” “waterproof,” “sweatproof,” “all day” and “all day protection” in the labeling, advertising, marketing or promotion of Coppertone products manufactured after June for sale in the U.S.

When the settlement is finalized, class members can submit claims worth up to $1.50 for each eligible Coppertone product they purchased.

Merck denies any wrongdoing or liability or that anyone was harmed by its Coppertone advertising claims. A company spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that all Coppertone products meet the Food and Drug Administration’s latest broad-spectrum sun protection standards.

Merck isn’t the only company that’s been criticized for extolling its supposedly long-lasting products. A group of women sued Maybelline earlier this week, claiming that the beauty company’s 14-hour and 10-hour lip products don’t live up to expectations.

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Contributing Author

Ashley Post

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