Novartis, P&G Participate In NAD Forum

New York, NY – March 24, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has determined that Novartis Consumer Health, Inc. provided adequate substantiation for advertising claims made for its Benefiber dietary fiber supplement.

 

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined claims for Benefiber on a product Website, on product packaging and in Internet and print advertising, following a challenge by the Procter & Gamble Company, maker of Metamucil, a over-the-counter drug and dietary supplement.

 

Internet claims at issue included:

 

·         “New Benefiber Caplets contain twice the amount of fiber as the leading fiber capsule†.  Now, you need to take only 3 caplets to get the same level of fiber! †Metamucil Capsules require 6 capsules to get 3 grams of Dietary Fiber compared to 3 Benefiber Caplets. Metamucil is a trademark of The Procter & Gamble Company.”

 

·         “Three Benefiber Caplets equal one serving and provide 3 grams of fiber.  You need to take 6 caplets of the Metamucil * caplet product to get the same 3 grams of fiber. *Metamucil is a registered trademark of The Procter & Gamble Company.”

 

Print and product packaging claims included:  

 

·         “40% MORE Servings than Metamucil †  †Refers to Benefiber  72 ct. vs. Metamucil  100 ct. and Benefiber  114 ct vs. Metamucil  160 ct. (Benefiber  3 caplets is equivalent to Metamucil  6 capsules).”

 

NAD noted that both Novartis and Procter & Gamble acknowledge that the health benefits that come with the consumption of dietary fiber depend upon the type of fiber consumed.  NAD further noted that it is undisputed that Benefiber and Metamucil contain different types of fiber and offer different health benefits; Benefiber is a dietary fiber supplement made from the soluble fiber wheat dextrin that provides digestive health benefits, Metamucil is both a dietary fiber supplement as well as a laxative made from the soluble and insoluble fiber, psyllium, that provides digestive and coronary health benefits and relieves constipation.

 

The central question before NAD was whether the advertiser’s claims for its fiber caplets, as they appear in the context of the challenged advertisements, trigger an obligation to disclose these health benefit differences. 

 

Following its review of the claims at issue, NAD determined that the claims

“New Benefiber Caplets contain twice the amount of fiber as the leading fiber capsule†.  Now, you need to take only 3 caplets to get the same level of fiber!” and “Three Benefiber Caplets equal one serving and provide 3 grams of fiber.  You need to take 6 caplets of the Metamucil* caplet product to get the same 3 grams of fiber.” are accurate fiber content and dosing comparisons. In the context in which the claims appear – where there is no reference to heart health – the claims do not convey the implied message that Benefiber is equivalent to Metamucil with respect to heart-health benefits. 

 

Similarly, NAD found that the claim, “40% MORE Servings than Metamucil † †Refers to Benefiber 72 ct. vs. Metamucil 100 ct. and Benefiber 114 ct vs. Metamucil 160 ct. (Benefiber 3 caplets is equivalent to Metamucil  6 capsules)” is likely to be understood by consumers as a comparison of fiber servings provided by the capsule version of the products.

 

To avoid the potential for any consumer confusion, NAD recommended that the advertiser clearly disclose the caplet count in both of the products that serve as the object of comparison within the claim.

 

Novartis, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company is pleased with NAD’s decision and will “further clarify the ‘40% More Servings’ claim on future packaging … .”