The manufacturer of Bayer aspirin and four other popular over-the-counter drugs was cited yesterday by a Federal Trade Commission law judge for claims that its products are superior.
Although the judge, Montgomery Hyun, rejected an FTC staff request to order Sterling Drug Inc. to use corrective advertising, the company was prohibited from making claims about the effectiveness of the products without new scientific evidence to support the advertising assertions.
In addition to citing Bayer aspirin, the law judge also named other pain-relief products of the New York-based drug firm -- Bayer Children's aspirin, Vanquish, Cope and Midol -- as other drugs marketed with unsubstantiated advertising claims.
In fact, the FTC official not only concluded that there is no data backing the claim that the asirins are superior but also said that Bayer, Vanquish and Midol do not relieve tension and that Midol has no effect on depression, as is claimed in the advertising.
In a statement, the company said it plans to appeal the rulings concerning all five products.
Noting that Hyun concluded that Sterling's data should be "supplemented by specified clinical tests," the company said that "such a requirement is scientifically unnecessary and wasteful of research resources. Sterling is confident that the full commission will agree that we have documented the superiority" of the two aspirin brands.
In a separate decision, the FTC charged that Aspercreme, an arthritis and rheumatic relief product made by Thompson Medical Co., has misled consumers by suggesting that it is effective in relieving pain associated with those two illnesses. The FTC said there is no reasonable basis for those claims.
The FTC also said that the company has misled consumers in advertising and that the trade name is deceptive because in fact the product does not contain aspirin.