BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Finds ProPhase Can Support Certain Durational Claims for Cold-EEZE, Recommends Advertiser Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims

New York, NY – Feb. 6, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has determined that ProPhase Labs. Inc., can support claims that the company’s Cold-EEZE line of zinc-based cold remedies shortens the duration of a cold.

However, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue claims that the product lessens the severity of a cold.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The claims at issue in NAD’s inquiry were challenged by Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., manufacturer of the competing Zicam cold remedy products.

NAD examined advertising claims in broadcast and Internet advertising that included:

• “Clinical Studies have shown: the Cold-EEZE proprietary formula reduces the duration and severity of colds by nearly half.”
• “Shortens your cold, works fast.”
• “Cold-EEZE. . . releases zinc ions, which interfere with the cold virus’ ability to reproduce.”
• “When you catch a cold, it can weaken your immune system, and with a weak immune system, it can leave you susceptible to all kinds of illnesses like the flu and so the key is that you want to lose that cold as quickly as possible, and that’s where Cold-EEZE comes in.”
• “Take Cold-EEZE at the first sign, or anytime, to shorten your cold.”

NAD also examined whether the advertiser’s claims implied that Cold-EEZE was superior to other cold remedies, or whether taking Cold-EEZE as a daily prophylactic would reduce a consumer’s chances of catching colds.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the advertiser did not provide a reasonable basis for the claim that the Cold-EEZE formula reduces the severity of colds by nearly half and recommended that it be discontinued.

NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for the claim that Cold-EEZE reduces the duration of colds, but recommended that it discontinue its use of the phrase “nearly half” and modify the claim to indicate the Cold-EEZE reduces the duration of colds by 42%.

NAD further recommended that the advertiser’s establishment claim be modified to indicate that only one clinical study forms the basis for that claim, or that the advertiser modify the claim by making it a performance claim rather than an establishment claim.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the “works fast” portion of the claim “shortens your cold, works fast.”

NAD appreciated the advertiser’s voluntary and permanent discontinuation of the phrase “or anytime” within the claim “Take Cold-EEZE at the first sign, or anytime, to shorten your cold,” which NAD deemed necessary and proper given the lack of supporting evidence in the record.

With regard to the mechanism of action claims that “Cold-EEZE releases zinc ions, which interfere with the cold virus’ ability to reproduce,” NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its advertising to more clearly convey that the replication theory is only one of several possible mechanisms of action.

NAD further recommended that the advertiser modify a “mechanism of action” video to include the statement: “Although the precise mechanism by which zinc ions interfere with the cold virus has not been scientifically established … .”

Finally, NAD noted that it appreciated the advertiser’s voluntary discontinuation of the alleged express and implied prophylactic benefit claims, which NAD deemed necessary and proper given the lack of supporting evidence in the record.

ProPhase, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “fully supports industry self-regulation and appreciates the opportunity to participate in the NAD’s self-regulatory process.”