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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ERSP Reviews Advertising for Arthri-D3; Finds Marketer Could Support Certain Performance Claims

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Blue Vase Marketing modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s Arthri-D3 dietary supplement. ERSP determined that the company could support claims that Arthri-D3 can help relieve the pain osteoarthritis.

ERSP, which reviews core claims in direct-response advertising, examined broadcast and Internet advertising for the product and reviewed performance claims, comparative claims and claims made through testimonials.

ERSP noted in its decision that the marketer, prior to receipt of ERSP’s initial inquiry, had “voluntarily removed the testimonials ERSP identified” and would revise any future advertising in a manner that adheres to the Federal Trade Commission’s guidance regarding the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.

In addition, the marketer advised ERSP that it has also either modified or discontinued the following comparative and general performance claims:

  • "Superior ingredients and manufacturing yield a superior supplement.” and “Arthri-D3™ is produced in the United States of America in a superior manufacturing facility that adheres to the highest quality standards."
  • "What's not to like about better, faster, all-natural results?"; "…I’ve tried all the natural products out there, the glucosamines, the chondroitins, nothing seemed to work." [Jim Shriner, online video] 
  • "Start feeling better today."

Arthri-D3 is a dietary supplement for joint and pain relief that combines N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (NAG) with vitamin D3 and several key plant extracts. The formula is marketed to support the structure and function of joints and the advertising is targeted to people suffering from symptoms of osteoarthritis and the degradation of joints, including articular cartilage and subchondral bone.

The marketer did not provide ERSP with testing on the product itself. Instead, the marketer relied on testing conducted on glucosamine, the product’s primary ingredient.

ERSP concluded that the marketer provided a reasonable basis for claims touting the joint health benefits of glucosamine and its role in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis, but recommended the marketer modify or discontinue claims that suggest consumers will derive an immediate benefit from use of the product.

ERSP determined that the marketer’s evidence was not sufficient to support the claim that Arthri-D3 provides effective pain relief for rheumatoid arthritis,
fibromyalgia or gout and recommended the market discontinue such claims in future advertising.

ERSP further recommended that the marketer discontinue its claim that Arthri-D3 can “re-build … cartilage.”

ERSP noted that the advertising at issue included statements suggesting that NAG is a superior form of glucosamine as compared to the other types of glucosamine commonly found in comparative products. However, in the absence of supporting evidence, ERSP cautioned Blue Vase about disseminating comparative efficacy claims about NAG versus glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine HCL.

Finally, ERSP addressed the omission of a clear and conspicuous disclosure that Jim Shriner, an expert endorser, was remunerated for his appearance in infomercial advertising. Although a super discloses that information at the start of the infomercials, the super is not repeated at any time during the 30-minute broadcast. ERSP recommended the advertiser repeat the disclosure throughout the program.

While the marketer took issue with certain of ERSP’s finding, the company said that it would “take ERSP’s recommendations under advisement for all current and future advertising.”

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