NOVARTIS DROPS AD CLAIM AFTER DECISION BY REVIEW BOARD

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(April 9, 2001) -- The self-regulatory arm of National Advertising Review Board today reiterated its authority to review direct-to-consumer ad claims even if the Food and Drug Administration has already approved them.

Novartis Consumer Health today agreed to drop its claim that Transderm Scop, a product that prevent nausea and motion sickness, is "clinically proven" more effective than Pharmica & Upjohn Consumer Healthcare's Dramamine. A panel of the National Advertising Review Board rejected Novartis' appeal of a self-regulatory decision reached by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Novartis had stated it had substantiated its ad and noted that the same claim was contained in a product insert approved by the FDA. The company had questioned whether the National Advertising Division shouldn't defer to the FDA.

The National Advertising Review Board ruled that while there are times the National Advertising Division should defer to the FDA, it suggested each case should be judged individually. It said the FDA had approved the insert as being intended for doctors and said the insert contained other qualifying language that the consumer-oriented ads did not. -- Ira Teinowitz

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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