NEW YORK — The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on Tuesday ruled that Procter & Gamble provided reasonable support for claims that Prilosec OTC provides “superior acid control” over a competing product, Prevacid 24HR. However, the NAD recommended P&G discontinue a comparative claim made in a context that doesn’t reference acid control, the review board added.
P&G’s Prilosec OTC claims were challenged by Novartis Consumer Health, maker of Prevacid 24HR. Claims at issue included:
In a head-to-head study Prilosec OTC had “superior acid control” over Prevacid 24HR;
Prilosec OTC provides “longer” and “superior acid control” over Prevacid 24HR;
Prilosec OTC provided some patients more than 2x longer acid control than Prevacid 15 mg (OTC);
Only 10% of Prevacid prescriptions are 15 mg, while Prilosec OTC contains the same medicine at the same dose as its leading Rx formulation; and
The implied claim that Prilosec OTC treats heartburn better than or offers superior heartburn relief to Prevacid 24HR.
The NAD determined that P&G provided a reasonable basis for claims that referenced “superior,” “longer” and “2x longer” acid control. The NAD further recommended that the advertiser clearly and conspicuously disclose the extent and limitations of its support for the claims.
The claim “only 10% of Prevacid prescriptions” are written at the 15-mg dose in Prevacid 24HR, while “Prilosec OTC contains the same medicine at the same dose as its leading Rx formulation,” appeared separately in a context that did not reference acid control. The claim was accompanied by the tagline “Heartburn gone … power on.”
NAD found that claim, in a comparative context that concerned the elimination of heartburn symptoms, could be understood to mean that Prilosec OTC is superior to Prevacid 24HR at relieving heartburn symptoms in frequent heartburn sufferers — a claim for which the advertiser provided no direct scientific evidence.
The NAD recommended that the claim be discontinued.
P&G, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while the company was disappointed that the NAD found fault with the claim in the context of the “Heartburn gone … power on” tagline, the company has agreed to comply with the NAD’s recommendation to discontinue the claim in the challenged context, and to take the NAD’s decision into account in future advertising.