BBB National Programs Archive
NAD Reviews Advertising For Zicam Products
New York, NY – May 12, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., modify certain advertising claims for the company’s oral Zicam Cold Remedy products.
NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined claims in product packaging and at a company Website, following a challenge by Quigley Corporation. Claims at issue included:
- “Taking Zicam Cold Remedy at the first sign of a cold: Reduces the duration of the common cold.”
- “Taking Zicam Cold Remedy at the first sign of a cold: . . . Reduces the severity of cold symptoms.”
- “Zicam Cold Remedy is an over-the-counter homeopathic medicine that actually reduces the duration and severity of the common cold when taken at the first sign of cold symptoms.”
- “Get over your cold faster with Zicam Cold Remedy!”
- “When taken at the first sign of a cold, within the first 24 to 48 hours, Zicam Cold Remedy has been proven to shorten the cold’s duration and reduce its severity.”
- “However, unlike most over-the-counter and prescription cold remedies that have been designed to temporarily suppress the symptoms of the common cold, Zicam Cold Remedy helps reduce the duration and severity of the common cold.”
- “Unlike other over-the-counter cold medicines designed to merely relieve cold symptoms, Zicam Cold Remedy represents a breakthrough in the treatment of the common cold.”
- “Numerous physicians, including ear, nose, and throat specialists, general practitioners and internists have come forward in support of the science behind Zicam Cold Remedy.”
- “Zicam Cold Remedy is safe and does not cause the side effects often experienced when taking cold relief products, such as drowsiness or grogginess, Zicam Cold Remedy is not habit-forming.”
- “Research conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious health centers, again confirms the efficacy of Zicam Cold Remedy. This clinical study demonstrated that Zicam reduced the severity and duration of common cold symptoms even when treatment is started as late as the second day after onset of illness.”
- “This research is important because it demonstrates that Zicam can still reduce the duration of the common cold even when busy cold sufferers can’t or don’t start using Zicam within the first 24 hours of illness. Previous research studies all initiated treatment within the first 24 hours of symptoms.”
NAD noted that it determined in a 2005 review of advertising for Zicam that Matrixx possessed the necessary support for claims that Zicam nasal products shortened the duration and reduced the severity of cold symptoms. NAD also determined in 2005 that studies conducted using the nasal gel in a spray pump form provided reliable support for claims made for the nasal gel in a medicated swab form.
NAD reviewed evidence for Zicam products in an oral form, including previously submitted evidence, and determined that certain claims were supported for all Zicam products, including cold duration reduction claims. However, because different evidence supported the nasal products and the oral products, NAD recommended certain clarifications.
NAD recommended that Matrixx modify claims to indicate that the Zicam oral products “may” reduce or lessen the severity of cold symptoms, as reflected by the evidence.
In considering claims referencing research on the products, NAD determined that claims referencing the Cleveland Clinic Foundation study – which was conducted on the nasal gel product – should be made separately from the general claims, and that Matrixx should make it clear that referenced research was conducted on the nasal gel product. Further, NAD noted, that in any claim referencing its scientific studies, the advertiser should make it clear to consumers which product – oral or nasal – was studied.
NAD further determined that the claim “Numerous physicians, including ear, nose, and throat specialists, general practitioners and internists have come forward in support of the science behind Zicam Cold Remedy” does not rise to the level of a “doctor recommended” claim. NAD found, as well, that the claim was supported by the evidence in the record.
The company, in its advertiser’s statement, thanked NAD for its consideration of the matter, but was “disappointed” at NAD’s recommendation that it qualify claims related to a reduction in severity, in connection with Zicam Cold Remedy Oral Products.
“Matrixx believes that the NAD erred in making such a recommendation given the abundant and solid clinical literature establishing the effectiveness of oral zinc in the reduction of the duration and severity of the common cold, in conjunction with numerous Matrixx studies establishing the bioavailability of abundant quantities of free ionic zinc in the oral cavity, among other things. Matrixx believes that the severity reduction claim is well supported without any additional qualification.”
The company said, however, that it would “take under advisement” NAD’s recommendation in future advertising.