On the second evening of Prime Day, Amazon’s annual sales bonanza, Anne Marie Bressler received an email from Amazon that had nothing to do with the latest deals. The message, sent from an automated email address Tuesday, informed her that the Align nutritional supplements she ordered two weeks earlier were probably counterfeit. “If you still have this product, we recommend that you stop using it immediately and dispose of the item,” the email reads, adding that she would be receiving a full refund. It’s not clear how many other customers may have purchased the fake supplements. Amazon confirmed that it sent out the email but declined to specify the number of customers impacted.
For years, Amazon has battled third-party sellers who list knockoffs of everything from iPhone charging cables to soccer jerseys on its site. Nutritional supplements are another popular target for fakes, as it’s a largely unregulated industry. The US Food and Drug Administration has been criticized—including by former staff—for declining to test dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness the same way it does pharmaceuticals. In this instance, the problems came together: An Amazon merchant sold dupes of genuine probiotics made by Align, a Procter & Gamble brand.
“We are aware that some counterfeit Align product was sold on Amazon via third parties,” Mollie Wheeler, a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble, said in an email. “Amazon has confirmed they have stopped third party sales of the Align products in question and Amazon is only selling Align product received directly from P&G manufacturing facilities.”
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