BBB National Programs Archive

J&J, Pfizer Participate in NAD Forum

New York, NY – January 12, 2006 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has determined that Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Inc., has eCortizone-10 1% hydrocortisone cream, a competing product.

Pfizer challenged the following claims: 

  • One application of Cortaid relieves itch for a full 12 hours and no other over the counter (OTC) hydrocortisone cream can relieve itch for 12 hours.”
  • “Cortaid is the longest lasting hydrocortisone cream available without a prescription.”
  • “The Cortaid product includes a major scientific advancement that makes it generally superior to all other OTC hydrocortisone creams.”

 In addition to the print claims, the broadcast commercial entitled, “Woman in Lab Talks about the Challenge,” depicts a woman in a white laboratory coat working along with other scientists on high-tech equipment. The woman explains that the Cortaid product was developed by J&J scientists who created an “invisible barrier” which acts to keep the hydrocortisone cream “locked in for 12 hours.” The commercial also states that “ordinary hydrocortisone creams don’t last.”

 The challenger argued that J&J’s claims of superiority and 12 hour relief were supported only by an indirect laboratory test purporting to demonstrate that clinically significant amounts of its product remain on the skin for 12 hours after the application.

 The advertiser submitted evidence that included the results of a controlled, randomized, investigator blinded, head-to-head study which tested more 70% of the market of over-the- counter 1% hydrocortisone creams. The statistically significant results of the test indicated that Cortaid Advanced had more hydrocortisone activity at 8 and 16 hours versus the competitive products.

 In its decision, NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, noted that it has often held that “the best evidence for claims of superiority (such as those of the advertiser’s in the present inquiry) is head-to-head testing.”

 After carefully reviewing all of the evidence in the record, NAD concluded that the advertiser established a reasonable basis for its claims that Cortaid Advanced is the “longest lasting hydrocortisone cream you can get without a prescription” and the claim that Cortaid Advanced provides twelve hours of anti-itch protection. NAD further concluded that the challenger did not demonstrate that the advertiser’s evidence was materially flawed or produce better data demonstrating different results.