National Advertising Division Recommends RhinoSystems Discontinue Limited Claims that Nasal Irrigation Systems Can Help Prevent Viral Illnesses
New York, NY – January 12, 2023 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs examined a number of challenged health-related claims by RhinoSystems, Inc. and found that the challenged packaging claims and many website claims did not convey virus prevention claims. However, NAD recommended that RhinoSystems discontinue certain other health-related claims that appeared in one television and two radio commercials or on the Naväge website, including:
- The express virus prevention claim on the Naväge website “using products such as Naväge Nasal Care not only avoids steroids and pills, but helps to avoid allergies, post-nasal drip, and a cold or flu.”
- Any implied virus prevention claims in its 2022 television commercial, the two challenged radio commercials and on Naväge’s website.
- The claim on the Naväge website “doctors love nasal irrigation.”
The claims at issue were challenged by competitor NeilMed Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer and supplier of competing nasal irrigation systems.
The parties to the challenge did not dispute that saline nasal irrigation “flushes out” viruses or that it provides symptom relief and mitigation. At issue before NAD was whether the advertiser’s express and implied claims convey a message that the use of Naväge or nasal irrigation prevents or reduces the risk of contracting a cold, flu, or other virus and if so, whether those claims are supported.
Virus Prevention Claims
In reviewing the RhinoSystems claims for Naväge, NAD found that certain of the challenged website claims and all challenged packaging claims generally refer to flushing out germ and virus particles and do not rise to the level of virus prevention claims. For example, while some language goes so far as to say after flushing out the germs consumers will feel healthier, there is nothing indicating that use of the product will prevent contraction of the flu or other viral illness.
However, NAD determined that an implied virus prevention message is conveyed in Naväge’s 2022 television commercial, ¬two challenged radio commercials, and by two claims on Naväge’s website which mention flushing out “infectious” germs and/or bacteria.
Cold and flu prevention claims are impactful to consumers and should be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence that fits the claim. NAD reviewed the evidence provided by the advertiser for claims that the use of Naväge or nasal irrigation can help consumers avoid or prevent the contraction of infectious diseases like the cold and flu and found that the advertiser’s support for its claims included studies with methodological flaws with respect to the populations, controls, and different methods of delivery that were not a good fit for the broad prevention claims. Accordingly, NAD recommended that such claims be discontinued.
“Doctors Love Nasal Irrigation” Claim
NeilMed objected to claims on Naväge’s website that state, “Doctors Love Nasal Irrigation. Why? Because it’s clinically proven to relieve sinus congestion safely and effectively by flushing out allergens, mucus, and infectious airborne germs. And it does this completely naturally without drugs.”
While NAD did not agree with NeilMed that the “doctors love” claim indicates a doctor preference for Naväge specifically, NAD did conclude that it conveys the message that a significant number of doctors have come to a consensus; therefore, such a claim requires a well-conducted, random, and statistically significant survey of doctors as substantiation.
NAD determined that the evidence in the record regarding recommendations by medical associations and institutions of nasal irrigation is not a good fit to substantiate the more general claim at issue, and recommended that the claim be discontinued. NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from making a more limited claim based on the specific recommendations of medical associations and institutions in the record.
During the proceeding, RhinoSystems voluntarily discontinued certain pandemic-related challenged claims, that appeared in a television commercial on the Naväge website therefore, NAD did not review these claims on the merits.
In its advertiser statement, RhinoSystems stated that it “will comply with NAD’s recommendations.” The advertiser further stated that while it respectfully disagrees with NAD’s conclusions regarding the lack of fit between its studies and the challenged claims and continues to believe that its claims are supported, “RhinoSystems is a supporter of the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”
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