Madison biotech firm faces class-action consumer fraud lawsuit

Quincy Bioscience, a maker of dietary supplements based in Madison, is the target of a class-action lawsuit over alleged consumer fraud.

Attorneys representing a nationwide class of supplement consumers filed the suit last week in a New Jersey federal court. At issue is Prevagen, an over-the-counter Quincy product that’s sold at pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid around the country.

The supplement’s key ingredient is a protein typically found in jellyfish that Quincy claims can improve consumers’ memories and foster a “sharper mind” and “clearer thinking.” In the past, the company has even suggested that Prevagen could assuage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The attorneys behind the lawsuit say that those claims are bunk.

“The only reason a consumer would purchase Prevagen is to obtain the advertised brain function and memory benefits, which it does not provide,” they write in the complaint. “Prevagen is a singular purpose product: its only purported benefit is to enhance brain function and memory — which it does not do.”

The complaint says that no peer-reviewed evidence exists that supports the the company’s claims.

The lawsuit is hardly the first time that Prevagen’s legitimacy has been called into question, as The Isthmus outlined in a report earlier this year.

Just last month, the Federal Trade Commission and New York attorney general asked a judge to block sales of the supplement in that state, also based on concerns of consumer fraud. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration slapped the company on the wrist, saying that some of the company’s marketing practices for Prevagen were illegal and calling into question whether the product could be considered a supplement in the first place.

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