Wed. Mar 22nd, 2023

On December 20, 2022, the Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) issued
its Well being Merchandise Compliance Steering
(“Well being Merchandise Steering”). That is the primary replace in
practically 25 years to FTC’s steering relating to promoting claims
for dietary dietary supplements, meals, over-the-counter medicine, and different
health-related merchandise. The replace attracts on the over 200 new circumstances
because the final steering was revealed as an example doubtlessly
false and deceptive claims and correct declare substantiation. Key
updates and modifications embrace:

23 new examples to broaden the steering to cowl meals,
over-the-counter medicine, units, and different health-related

Clarification of FTC’s coordination with FDA relating to
well being product claims;

Detailed steering on the FTC’s requirements for correct
“clear and conspicuous” disclosure of declare
{qualifications}; and

Expanded dialogue on the required “competent and
dependable scientific proof” and testing methodology required
to substantiate health-related claims.


FTC and FDA each have jurisdiction over advertising and marketing of dietary
dietary supplements, meals, non-prescription medicine, units, and different
health-related merchandise. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding that clarifies FDA
has main accountability for labeling claims (“together with the
package deal, product inserts, and different promotional supplies out there
at level of sale”) and FTC has main accountability for
promoting claims (“conventional TV, radio, print, and
web advertisements, but additionally extra broadly . . . [a] number of advertising and marketing
strategies and promotion strategies”). However as defined within the
Well being Merchandise Steering, the companies might regulate the identical kind
of claims for a similar kind of product in another way. For instance,
whereas FDA evaluates a declare in another way relying on whether or not the
product is a complement, meals, or drug, FTC treats all well being
product claims the identical. FTC additionally doesn’t pre-approve well being
claims like FDA and doesn’t require notification for
construction/operate claims like FDA. And whereas FTC provides nice
deference to claims that FDA has endorsed, an FDA evaluation isn’t
dispositive of whether or not a declare could also be misleading in keeping with


The Well being Merchandise Steering outlines FTC’s two-step course of
for evaluating the truthfulness and accuracy of promoting of
dietary dietary supplements, meals, over-the-counter medicine, and different
health-related merchandise. Step one is “determine all
claims the promoting supplies talk to affordable
customers.” Second, “FTC assesses the scientific proof
upon which the corporate depends to find out whether or not there’s
satisfactory help for these claims.” Examples all through the
Well being Merchandise Steering assist illustrate how FTC applies these
requirements to claims and promoting.

Step One: Figuring out and Deciphering Claims and

In figuring out and deciphering promoting claims, FTC focuses
on the buyer’s understanding of an commercial somewhat than
the marketer’s intent as a result of the supposed viewers might have
particular attributes that render it extra vulnerable to sure
claims. For instance, “terminally unwell customers could be
significantly vulnerable to exaggerated treatment claims.” The
Well being Merchandise Steering explains that misleading promoting might
come up from both: (1) direct or implied claims about the advantages,
security, or different traits of the product, or (2) omitted
info that “is materials in mild of the claims within the advert
or with respect to how customers would typically use the
product[,]” comparable to indicating {that a} vitamin might trigger

When disclosure of fabric info is critical to forestall
promoting from being false or deceptive, the disclosure have to be
“clear and conspicuous.” In different phrases, mere inclusion
of qualifying info is inadequate, and to forestall an advert
from being misleading, advertisers ought to be certain that a written
disclosure is “simply observed, learn, and understood” and
that an audible disclosure is “delivered in a quantity, velocity,
and cadence in order that it may be simply heard and understood.”
In the end, whether or not a disclosure is sufficiently clear and
conspicuous relies on whether or not it has an efficient affect on a
affordable shopper.

Step Two: Evaluating Declare Substantiation

FTC’s up to date steering dives deep on its second step in
evaluating an commercial’s truthfulness: whether or not a well being
product declare is correctly substantiated with “competent and
dependable scientific proof.” When evaluating whether or not the
advertiser has an inexpensive foundation to make a declare, FTC considers
5 components.

Below this framework, FTC typically requires randomized,
managed human scientific trials for many well being profit claims
as a result of such trials are wanted to show a causal hyperlink, however there
could also be some exceptions the place consultants within the discipline settle for
various substantiation and human scientific trials are usually not
possible. The Well being Product Steering explains that, to function
satisfactory substantiation, a dependable, high quality scientific trial ought to
typically embrace randomization, a management group, double blinding,
statistically important outcomes, and clinically significant
outcomes, amongst different traits.

However the totality of the proof have to be thought of within the
context of the out there scientific proof within the relevant
discipline and the precise declare being made. A person examine
supporting a declare isn’t sufficient to make a declare truthful if the
surrounding proof within the discipline runs opposite to the examine.


The Well being Product Steering additionally discusses 5 distinct well being
product promoting points which will draw FTC scrutiny.

FTC cautions towards claims primarily based on shopper testimonials or
knowledgeable endorsements, except these claims might be substantiated, as
the advertiser is in the end liable for the deceptive use of
an endorsement.

Claims primarily based on conventional use, comparable to an commercial that
signifies an natural tea combination has been used to help digestion for
tons of of years, are usually not

Mere use of the DSHEA disclaimer stating that the product has
not been evaluated by FDA and that the product isn’t supposed to
diagnose, deal with, treatment, or stop any illness is not going to treatment an
in any other case misleading commercial or declare.

Advertisers ought to be conscious “to not mischaracterize the
extent to which a product or claims has been reviewed, licensed,
or authorized by the FDA.”

FTC will consider whether or not reference to third-party literature
might represent an implied and misleading declare on a case-by-case

Advertisers of health-related merchandise have to be particularly
diligent about what claims they’re making. Each FTC and FDA have
jurisdiction over this space and each companies have elevated
enforcement efforts in recent times towards advertisers of
health-related merchandise for false and deceptive claims. And as
FTC’s up to date Well being Merchandise Steering demonstrates,
promoting for health-related merchandise have to be nuanced,
thoughtfully thought of, and reviewed to keep away from potential pitfalls
that might result in regulatory enforcement and litigation.

Kai Mindick, a former regulation clerk in our Austin workplace,
contributed to the writing of this submit.

Due to the generality of this replace, the data
offered herein will not be relevant in all conditions and may
not be acted upon with out particular authorized recommendation primarily based on specific

© Morrison & Foerster LLP. All rights reserved

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