Company Must Modify Claims for Heartburn Drug

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CINCINNATI ( -- Procter & Gamble Co. must modify ads for its Prilosec OTC under an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday.

The injunction stemmed from a lawsuit filed earlier this month by Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co., which jointly make rival over-the-counter heartburn drug Pepsid. P&G launched Prilosec OTC on Sept. 15 under license from AstraZeneca, which sells the prescription form of the drug.

Duration of pill's effectiveness
J&J and Merck said in their lawsuit that P&G's advertising misleads consumers to believe Prilosec OTC works in a day, though it's intended to be taken daily for two weeks and full relief doesn't begin until the fourth day. A P&G spokesman called its advertising "absolutely true" and said studies filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration show Prilosec delivers "significant relief" the first day.

Under the injunction, P&G would need to modify the old claim, "1 pill, 24 hours, 0 heartburn," to read "1 pill a day, 24 hours, 0 heartburn." Both claims include the footnote "use as directed for 14 days for frequent heartburn."

In a statement, P&G said it would appeal the ruling, which it said would not affect the primary Prilosec packaging. Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide, New York, handles Prilosec advertising.

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