A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), a division of BBB National Programs, has recommended that Church & Dwight Co., Inc. (Ewing, NJ) discontinue the claim “Clinically Proven Absorption” for its Vitafusion gummy line of dietary supplements. The advertising at issue had been challenged by competitor Pharmavite LLC (West Hills, CA) before the National Advertising Division (NAD). Following NAD’s decision (Case No. 6355), Church & Dwight appealed NAD’s findings.
As an initial matter, the NARB panel considered, and rejected, the advertiser’s argument that procedural rules had been violated by NAD and that as a consequence the advertiser had been denied a fair opportunity to provide support for its claims. The NARB panel agreed with NAD’s conclusion that an essential requirement for the scientific support for the advertiser’s “clinically proven absorption” claim is that the amount of vitamin C and vitamin D3 absorption that is “clinically proven” to occur must be clinically meaningful (i.e. that Vitafusion gummy vitamins deliver a meaningful amount of nutrients to the body). The panel concluded that because the studies relied on by Church & Dwight could not quantify the amount of vitamin C and vitamin D3 actually being absorbed, the studies failed to show that the amount of vitamin absorbed is clinically meaningful. Thus, the panel determined that Church & Dwight’s “clinically proven absorption” claim was unsupported and recommended that it be discontinued.
Church & Dwight stated that it will comply with NARB’s decision and “remains strongly committed to the self-regulatory process.” It added that it “does not feel it received a fair process or result either before NAD or NARB.” According to Church & Dwight, it “appealed to NARB not only because it believed NAD’s decision was wrong on the merits, but also because it resulted from an unfair process” in which, according to the advertiser, it did not have a fair opportunity to present its evidence in response to an alleged implied claim that the challenger raised, in its view, too late in the challenge process in violation of NAD’s Procedures. The advertiser expressed disappointment that, in its view, the NARB’s decision did not address the advertiser’s argument that NAD procedures had been violated. It further argued that “NARB failed to address NAD precedent,” which in its view “squarely reject[ed] NAD’s position that a showing of ‘clinical meaningfulness’ is needed to make a ‘clinically proven absorption’ claim.”
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