Glucerna Class Action Lawsuit Allowed to Proceed

Glucerna shakes

Plaintiffs Say Glucerna Contains Sucralose And Additives That May Have Dangerous Health Effects for Diabetics

A class action lawsuit alleging Abbott Laboratories sells Glucerna shakes and nutritional powders for diabetics that contain ingredients that might actually be harmful can proceed, a California federal judge ruled.

In a ruling filed June 5, U.S. District Judge P. Casey Pitts threw out Abbott’s motion to dismiss the fraud claims against it.

Judge Pitts ruled that the consumers who filed the lawsuit had made a plausible argument so far that Glucerna contains ingredients that could have dangerous side effects.

Glucerna's Sweet Promise: A Healthier Option for Diabetics?

Abbott markets its line of "Glucerna" branded shakes and powders to diabetic, prediabetic, and health-conscious consumers, claiming the products are "scientifically designed for people with diabetes" and help "manage blood sugar."

However, the lawsuit alleges that Glucerna contains sucralose, an artificial sweetener that may not be as beneficial as advertised. While sucralose is FDA-approved, recent studies have raised concerns about its potential health risks, including links to obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

The plaintiffs further argue that sucralose may disrupt the gut microbiome, harm insulin-producing pancreatic cells, and contribute to insulin resistance, potentially worsening the very conditions Glucerna is meant to help manage. 

“For example, studies have suggested that sucralose is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes… hypertension, and cardiovascular disease; that sucralose can deregulate blood sugar by disrupting the gut microbiome and killing pancreatic cells that release insulin; and that sucralose can cause cells to become resistant to insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes or obesity,” the lawsuit says. 

The lawsuit also cites similar scientific findings for maltodextrin and carrageenan, which Glucerna also contains.  

Plaintiffs Allege They Were Misled By The Glucerna Labels 

The plaintiffs claim that Abbott Laboratories' labeling of Glucerna products is misleading. By emphasizing the products' benefits for blood sugar management, the company allegedly deceives consumers into believing they are making healthy choices, when in fact, they may be unknowingly exposing themselves to potential harm.

California resident Steven Prescott, the lead plaintiff, asserts that he would not have purchased Glucerna products had he known about the potential risks associated with their ingredients. He seeks to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased Glucerna products under the assumption that they were beneficial for their health.

While Judge Pitts rejected the plaintiffs' request for an injunction to change Glucerna's labeling, he allowed the fraud claims to proceed, stating that the plaintiffs had presented a plausible argument regarding the potential harm caused by the product's ingredients, Reuters reports. This ruling is a significant victory for the plaintiffs and opens the door for further legal action against Abbott Laboratories.

Pitt said any customers concerned about the additives can check the ingredients list to see if the products contain sucralose going forward.

In 2012, Abbott Laboratories pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve claims arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of the prescription drug Depakote, which was not approved as safe and effective by the FDA.

Case Details

  • Lawsuit: Prescott et al v. Abbott Laboratories
  • Case Number: 5:23-cv-04348
  • Court: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Plaintiffs' Attorneys

  • Shireen Clarkson, Bahar Sodaify and Alan Gudino (Clarkson Law Firm)

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