Guthy-Renker Agrees to $26 Million Settlement in WEN Class Action Lawsuit

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Guthy-Renker, the company that makes WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner, has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that the product causes hair loss, hair breakage, rash and balding for $26.25 million.

What’s the Problem?

August 16, 2016 – If the settlement is approved by a federal judge, it would repay $25 to anyone who’s purchased a bottle of WEN cleansing conditioner and up to $20,000 to people who suffered an adverse reaction after using the product, according to the New York Times.

Plaintiffs may be eligible to make claims to be reimbursed for treating side effects, as well as for injury awards. Guthy-Renker stands by the safety of its cleansing conditioner, citing studies the company says demonstrate that it does not cause hair loss, instead referring to the pending settlement as a “business decision.”

On July 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that WEN could cause balding, hair loss, itching and rash, stating that it had received at least 127 adverse event reports associated with the products. Although the warning was unprecedented for a haircare line, the FDA does not have power to issue recalls of cosmetics the way it does with pharmaceuticals. Instead, the agency monitors complaints and decides whether to conduct an investigation. FDA can potentially take action if it determines that a product is mislabeled or contaminated.

Proposed legislation from Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) would require cosmetic manufacturers to notify the FDA of “serious adverse” reactions in real time, in addition to submitting an annual report of all “adverse events” and giving the agency power to recall products. The bill would collect fees to study the safety of cosmetics, and has been endorsed by major labels such as Estée Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble. Guthy-Renker and other independent companies like Mary Kay support a different bill that would require notification of adverse events but not collect fees for safety studies or grant the FDA authority to issue recalls.

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