NAD Recommends Lang Pharma Discontinue Certain Claims for ‘CVS Nourishing Hair Dietary Supplements,’ Following Lifes2Good Challenge; Finds Product Name is Not Misleading

New York, NY – Sept. 16, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Lang Pharma Nutrition, Inc., maker of CVS Nourishing Hair Dietary Supplements, discontinue the advertising claim “compare to Viviscal,” a competing product. NAD determined, however, that the product name was unlikely to mislead consumers. The claims at issue were challenged by Lifes2Good, LLC, the maker of Viviscal supplements.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Both parties make hair growth supplements that contain marine blends of shark and mollusk powder, as well as biotin, zinc, vitamin C, horsetail extract, keratin and iron.

In this case, the challenger contended that all the challenged claims were comparative or product performance claims, requiring competent and reliable scientific evidence for support.

The advertiser countered that its “compare to Viviscal” claim was an invitation to compare Viviscal and the CVS Hair Nourishing Supplement products.

Claims at issue in NAD’s review included:

  • “Compare to Viviscal”
  • “Supports existing hair growth from within.”
  • “Scientifically formulated for beautiful hair.”
  • “Scientifically formulated to support existing hair growth.”
  • “By providing nutrients this unique supplement supports existing hair”
  • “Drug-free nutrient formula for thinning hair.”
  • “Hair Nourishing Supplement.”

In place of specific product testing to support its hair nourishment and supporting hair growth claims, the advertiser submitted studies and articles on the ingredients in its supplement.  As stated in many NAD cases, when making claims based on the ingredients in a product, advertisers bear the burden of demonstrating that the advertised product has the same ingredient in the same dosage, formulation and route of administration as the underlying studies submitted in support of its health claims.

Additionally, in order to be considered sufficiently reliable to provide a reasonable basis for the advertiser’s health-related claims, the submitted ingredient studies must constitute competent and reliable evidence.  Competent and reliable scientific evidence, sufficient to support health-related efficacy, generally includes at least one human clinical trial that is methodologically sound and statistically significant to the 95% confidence level.   The results should directly relate to the attributes promised by the performance claims.  Another hallmark of a methodologically sound trial is that the population studied in the trial is the same as the population to whom the product is being advertised.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended the advertiser:

  • Discontinue its “compare to Viviscal” claim.
  • Discontinue its unsupported claims that its CVS Hair Nourishing product is “drug-free nutrient formula for thinning hair.” (NAD noted that whether CVS Hair Supplements were “drug-free” itself was not at issue, only whether the product could treat “thinning hair.”).
  • Discontinue claims that CVS Hair Nourishing product is “scientifically formulated to support existing hair growth.”

NAD recommended that the advertiser  discontinue its unqualified claim that its product “supports existing hair growth from within,” but determined that that the advertiser had provided a reasonable basis for a modified claim that the ingredients in its CVS Hair Nourishing Supplement “supports existing hair growth from within.”

NAD determined that the advertiser had provided a reasonable basis for its claim “by providing nutrients this unique supplement supports existing hair.”

NAD determined that the product name “Hair Nourishing Supplement” was expressly truthful and not likely to mislead consumers and found that the claim “scientifically formulated for beautiful hair” was puffery and, as such, did not require substantiation.

The advertiser advised NAD in writing that, instead of submitting substantiating evidence, it had elected to permanently discontinue “scientifically formulated to support existing hair growth for women with thinning hair,” “by providing marine source collagen and chondroitin, as well as biotin and zinc, this unique supplement supports optimal conditions for growth of existing hair” and also a chart comparing the amounts of nutrients in Viviscal and CVS Hair Nourishing Supplements.  In reliance on the advertiser’s representation that these claims had been permanently discontinued, NAD did not review these claims on their merits.  The voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.

Lang Pharma Nutrition, in its advertiser’s statement, thanked NAD “for its diligent review of this matter.”