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WASHINGTON ( -- A consumer group today filed a class action lawsuit in New Jersey state court alleging that Schering-Plough's ads for Claritin are "misleading."

The Prescription Access Litigation Project has accused Schering-Plough and WPP Group's CommonHealth's Quantum Group of violating New Jersey consumer protection laws in its ads for allergy drug Claritin.

The suit alleges that Claritin ads "falsely promise" purchasers "complete relief" from their allergy symptoms even though half of Claritin users find no such relief. The suit also says the ads unlawfully increase consumer demand and help Schering maintain high prices.

'False and misleading'
"The manufacturer and advertisers of Claritin products employ unconscionable commercial practices, deception and knowing concealment," says the suit, going on to call the scale of the "false and misleading" advertising "exceeds everything in American prescription drug history."

The suit asks for refunds to consumers and "injuctive relief."

Schering-Plough said it hasn't yet seen the lawsuit, but that its advertising complies with Food and Drug Administration rules and that Claritin wouldn't be a success if it didn't work.

Quantum Group did not return calls for comment by press time.

The group has filed several suits against drug makers on pricing issues, but this is its first suit relating to direct-to-consumer drug advertising issues.

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