BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Prestige Discontinue Certain Claims for ‘Little Remedies’ Products, Finds Product Name is Not Misleading

New York, NY – March 12, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Prestige Brands Holdings, Inc., discontinue certain advertising claims for two of the company’s “Little Remedies” products formulated with honey. However, NAD determined that the advertiser could support a challenged claim made for Little Remedies Honey Cough Syrup and found that the products’ name – Little Remedies – was not misleading.

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 – which appeared in broadcast and Internet advertising, on social media channels and on labeling – were challenged by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. Pfizer argued that the advertiser made health-related claims for the child-directed products, which include Little Remedies Honey Cough Syrup, Little Remedies Honey Pops, and Little Remedies Cough and Immune Support.

In response to NAD’s inquiry, Prestige said that some of the challenged claims had been discontinued prior to NAD’s inquiry. Further, the company said, it had discontinued its Soothing Cough Syrup and Honey Elixir products, stopped using the phrase “Safe and Effective” on its Honey Cough Syrup and changed the language on its Cough + Immune Support product to state “support immune system,” rather than “boost immune system.”

In this case, the advertiser offered five studies aimed at assessing the effects of honey on children’s nighttime coughs. NAD noted that the while the studies varied with respect to certain methodological features, including the type of honey studied and the number and ages of the subjects, all of them sought to assess nighttime coughing by asking parents to answer a questionnaire addressing the frequency and severity of their children’s nighttime coughing.

NAD determined that the studies, taken together, demonstrated honey’s efficacy in mitigating cough frequency and severity – an outcome that could be fairly described as “soothing” and/or “calming.” Furthermore, NAD found that these findings were further bolstered by the many physicians, hospitals, and expert bodies that have relied on these studies or otherwise endorsed the use of honey for coughs.

NAD next considered whether honey’s demonstrated efficacy as a soother and calmer of coughs could be extended to Prestige’s Little Remedies honey-containing products.

The challenger argued against extrapolation, noting its concern that Prestige provided ingredient studies – rather than studies that were conducted on the Little Remedies products themselves.

NAD noted in its decision that while it generally requires advertisers to provide studies that were conducted on the products themselves to support product performance claims, it has carved out an exception for products which are “essentially the key ingredient.”

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that Prestige had provided a reasonable basis for the claim that its Little Remedies Honey Cough Syrup – formulated with only honey, water and a preservative – soothes and calms coughs.

However, NAD determined that honey’s effect on coughs could not be assumed to extend to sore throats and colds. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims that its Honey Cough Syrup – or any other Little Remedies honey-containing product – soothes or calms sore throats or relive cold symptoms.

Further, NAD found that Prestige’s Honey Pops and its Cough + Immune Support  are not “essentially” honey. NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue claims that its Honey Pops and Cough + Immune Support products “calm” or “soothe” either throats or coughs.

Finally, NAD determined that there was no basis to conclude that the “Little Remedies” brand name is misleading.

Prestige, in its advertiser’s statement, took issue with certain of NAD’s findings, but said the company would take NAD’s recommendations into consideration in future revisions to its labeling and packaging.