BBB National Programs Archive

Bayer Halts Certain ‘Complete Relief’ Claims for Alka-Seltzer Plus Severe Sinus Congestion and Cough; NAD Finds Company Took Necessary Action in Doing So

New York, NY – May 22, 2013 – Bayer Healthcare, LLC, has said it has discontinued certain advertising claims made in broadcast advertising for Alka-Seltzer Plus Severe Sinus Congestion and Cough, a sinus medication. The National Advertising Division, an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, has determined that the company acted properly in doing so, given the absence of supporting evidence for the claims.

The express and implied claims at issue were challenged before NAD by The Procter & Gamble Company, the maker of a competing sinus medication, and included:

  •  “Complete relief of your worst sinus symptoms.”
  •  “I took something for my sinuses, but I still have this cough. Truth is a lot of sinus products don’t treat coughs . . . but Alka-Seltzer Plus Severe Sinus does. It treats your worst sinus symptoms, plus that annoying cough.”
  •  “Try Alka-Seltzer Plus Severe Sinus Day and Night for complete relief from your worst sinus symptoms.”
  •  Allka-Seltzer Plus Severe Sinus Congestion and Cough will entirely resolve all sinus symptoms.

After the challenge was filed, the advertiser informed NAD that although it was confident it could substantiate the challenged claims, it had decided to permanently discontinue the use of the phrase “complete relief” in all advertising for the product.

NAD noted its appreciation for the advertiser’s voluntary action, which NAD determined to be necessary and appropriate, given the absence in the record of supporting evidence.

In reliance on the advertiser’s written assurance that all of the challenged “complete relief” claims have been permanently discontinued, NAD determined that no further action was necessary.

Bayer, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company disagreed with the interpretations of the term “complete relief” posited by challenger, but for business reasons unrelated to the merits it has decided permanently to discontinue use of the phrase in Alka-Seltzer Plus advertising and promotion. Bayer understands and accepts that NAD’s conclusion, that such discontinuance is necessary and appropriate, relates to the fact that no record has been submitted in this proceeding seeking to establish the legitimacy of such claim. Bayer appreciates NAD’s expedited resolution of this matter and values the opportunity to participate in the industry self-regulatory process.”