Targets Allergy Medicine Claims From Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Food and Drug Administration has told two pharmaceutical companies to alter or pull their ads for their allergy medication.

FDA alleged that broadcast and print ads for GlaxoSmithKline's allergy nasal spray Flonase make misleading claims that the product is a substitute for "allergy relief."

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The FDA cited one print ad that

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carried the headline "What you don't know about Clarinex, Zyrtec and Allegra may cost you." Those drugs are antihistamine pills. The ad goes on to say "Don't let allergy relief cost you more this year. Ask your doctor about Flonase."

The FDA said that because Flonase only treat nasal symptoms of allergies, the ad creates "a misleading impression." Flonase "is neither therapeutically equivalent to the oral antihistamines nor interchangeable with or substitutable for them," the FDA wrote GlaxoSmithKline last week.

Campaign is over
A spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline said the ad campaign, from Grey Global's Grey Worldwide, had already ended when it received the letter from the FDA. She said it was not the company's intent to suggest non-nasal benefits for the drug and that it intends to keep the FDA's warning in mind for future ads.

The FDA also notified Novartis Opthalmics that its TV ad and Web site for Zaditor eyedrops misleadingly suggest the product is a better solution for an eye allergy than oral antihistamines or other eyedrops while failing to clearly communicate the risks of using the product.

A spokesman for Novartis said the company is discussing the ad, produced by OneSource Marketing, Atlanta, with the FDA and expects to comply with its request for changes.

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