The Federal Trade Commission--for the first time in 25 years and only the second time ever--ordered a marketer to run corrective advertising in a case where the company didn't voluntarily agree. In a case that could test the FTC's authority to use corrective ads as a consumer protection remedy, the commission today ordered Novartis Consumer Health to run ads for Doan's pills that include the line "Although Doan's is an effective pain reliever, there is no evidence that Doan's is more effective than other pain relievers for back pain.'' The line must run in print and longer TV and radio ads for a year, and the company has to spend at least $8 million on the ads, according to the 3-1 FTC decision. The action overturned a hearing officer's ruling that corrective ads weren't warranted. Novartis said today "we strongly disagree'' with the ruling and said it was debating appealing the case to federal court. The advertising that ran afoul of the FTC appeared between 1987 and '96, when Doan's was handled by Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, New York.
Copyright May 1999, Crain Communications Inc.