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Are Your Product Advertising Claims Truthful?

James Chiodo, Certified Information Privacy Professional CIPP/US

The FTC has recently gone after a company named Lornamead, Inc., for a product line they developed, which is supposed to keep lice away called Lice Shield. The line includes a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner, a stick, a spray for hair that acts as leave in protection, and a spray for hats and helmets. The advertising claim was that these products would keep the user form getting lice. Ads used tag lines such as: “The best way to treat lice is to avoid getting them,” and “Don’t get lice. Get Lice Shield.”

Those are catchy phrases, but the company went further by producing a chart with the results of some lab research. The claims were that scientific research showed an 86% increase in chance of repelling lice with the leave in spray and a 53% increase when the shampoo and conditioner are used. So what was the problem that brought the FTC into the issue?

Complaints include the fact that there was no substantiation to back up the claims the product actually has these results on real humans. We only have the word of the company, and that was in relation to lab testing, not human trials. There was also no information provided as to the spray for helmets and hats other than saying that it would significantly reduce the likelihood of getting lice.

Lornamead, Inc. is going to be backing up all of their future claims with real human tests. They have half a million reasons to. Or maybe we should say that half a million missing dollars that got paid out in the settlement will make a great reminder for them. The requirement now is that a clinical trial is performed on at least one human. It needs to show that their products can prevent head lice, reduce the risk by a specific percentage, and repel lice from a person’s head (or at least a percentage which can then be advertised).

Here’s the warning for companies that are going to make medical health claims about their products. Lab testing is great, but if you don’t have data showing that it works on a real-live  human, don’t claim that it works, or that it can change something by a specific percentage. Lab testing is obviously important before your product ever gets to a human. Just be sure that some people actually use it, and that you can prove it works on a real person and not just in a lab before you make any specific claims when advertising.

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