August 24, 2005
Jefferson City, Mo. — Two Internet companies that allegedly made claims they could guide consumers to sources for free prescription medications - but instead did little more than take their money — are the target of two lawsuits filed today by Attorney General Jay Nixon.
According to a lawsuit filed in Buchanan County Circuit Court, MyFreeMedicine.com, based in Sacramento, Calif., advertised its services to Missouri residents via the Internet and television commercials, offering consumers the opportunity to apply for free drug programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. Customers are charged a $199.95 registration fee, and the company offers a "money back guarantee" if the consumer is not eligible for any of the free drug programs.
Nixon alleges that the company fails to disclose that consumers will be charged $199.95 every six months, via a charge to their credit card or debit to their checking account, and that consumers can apply for these same programs themselves at no cost. Furthermore, Nixon said, MyFreeMedicine makes the process for receiving a refund "particularly onerous," and has yet to issue refunds to all Missouri consumers who paid for its services - in spite of the fact that they were ineligible to participate in the free prescription drug programs.
A second lawsuit, filed in Henry County Circuit Court, alleges that Consumer Savings Direct, doing business as Free Medicine Direct in Naples, Fla., pulled a similar scam against Missouri consumers. For a fee of $199.95, Free Medicine Direct also promised to put consumers in touch with free drug programs offered by pharmaceutical companies — but failed to tell consumers that the fee would be automatically deducted from their checking account or charged to their credit card annually, even if they were ineligible for the free drug programs. Free Medicine Direct has yet to issue full refunds to all the Missouri consumers who have requested them.
"The consumers who are likely to fall prey to this type of unfair trade practice are generally those who can least afford to lose their money," Nixon said. "This type of sleight-of-hand deception needs to be stopped, and these consumers need to be made whole."
Nixon's lawsuits allege that MyFreeMedicine and Free Medicine Direct omitted material facts from their advertisements, deceived consumers through their advertising, and engaged in unfair trade practices, all violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. He is asking the respective courts to order MyFreeMedicine and Free Medicine Direct to cease all violations of Missouri's consumer protection laws, pay full restitution to all aggrieved consumers, plus pay civil penalties and pay all costs of investigation and prosecution.