NAD Recommends Bausch + Lomb Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims Made in Advertorial; Claims Challenged by Alcon Laboratories

New York, NY – April 10, 2013 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Bausch + Lomb Inc., modify or discontinue certain claims made in an advertorial context that refer to Alcon Laboratories, Inc.’s OPTI-FREE RepleniSH contact lens solution.

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 advertorial, challenged by Alcon, alerted eye-care practitioners to an increase in reports of infiltrative keratitis, a condition that can affect the vision and comfort of contact lens wearers.

Titled “Infiltrative Keratitis and Gram-Negative Bacterial Resistance to PQ-Aldox Lens Care Products,” the advertorial appeared in publications directed to eye-care professionals.

Claims at issue included:

  • “Contact lens associated infiltrative keratitis (“CLAIK”) has been reported at higher rates in particular with polyquaternium (PQ)-Aldox (myristamidopropyl dimethylamine) based Multi-Purpose Solutions (MPS).”
  • “Notably, CLAIK has repeatedly been associated with one PQ-Aldox MPS, OPTI-FREE RepleniSH in independent studies. In one report, this solution was being used in 71% of CLAIK cases.”

NAD also examined whether the advertising at issue implied that Alcon’s OPTI-FREE RepleniSH contact lens solution poses the risk of or causes corneal infiltrative events or CIEs.

NAD noted in its decision that advertisers are responsible for all messages conveyed by their advertising, not only the messages they intended to communicate.

In this case, NAD determined that the challenged advertorial conveyed the messages that consumers who wear silicone hydrogel lenses and use Opti-Free RepleniSH are substantially more likely to experience, or are at a greater risk for, CLAIK than other contact lens solutions; and that eye care practitioners should switch their patients to the advertiser’s Biotrue solution which has been shown to reduce their patients’ risk for CLAIK.

NAD further determined that the advertiser’s evidence did not support any of these messages. NAD noted in its decision that none of the studies offered as evidence found that patients were at a greater risk for CLAIK due to the use of Opti-Free RepleniSH alone, nor did the studies advise practitioners to switch their patients to a non-PQ-Aldox MPS because such a change had been shown to reduce the risk of CLAIK.

NAD recognizes that emerging science is important to eye care professionals and that so long as it is truthful and accurate, it is information that the advertiser should be free to disseminate. However, it recommended that the advertiser modify its advertorial to:

  • Avoid communicating that consumers who wear silicone hydrogel lenses and use Opti-Free Replenish are substantially more likely to experience, or are at a greater risk for, CLAIK than other contact lens solutions
  • Refer to PQ-Aldox MPS, rather than the brand name product, Opti-Free RepleniSH.
  • Discontinue its recommendation that professionals switch their patients from Opti-Free RepleniSH to Biotrue to reduce their risk of CLAIK and/or CIEs.

Bausch + Lomb, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while the company respectfully disagrees with NAD’s findings concerning the net impressions of the advertorial, it “appreciates NAD’s recommendations on how to avoid any future confusion about the intended message. Bausch + Lomb will seek ways in which to incorporate this helpful guidance in any future advertising or promotional communications about this emerging field of study.”