The FTC gets involved with false claims cases all the time, but this time the attack is coming from a public interest group. It says that Bayer product Men’s One A Day vitamins does not inhibit prostate cancer as Bayer once claimed.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is the group bringing action against Bayer in Superior Court of California in San Francisco. CSPI says that not only is there no proof that One A Day ingredient selenium is a cancer fighter, there IS a growing body of evidence that it may cause diabetes.
Apparently Bayer agreed to cease referring to any cancer-fighting properties in this product, but refused to recall packages of it already shipped and still bearing the false claim.
Proving that not all publicity is good, CSPI listed a number of criminal penalties paid by Bayer over recent years for various transgressions, including actions by the FTC, DOJ and FDA. One A Day has even been in the defendant docket before on the basis of unproven claims about its ability to aid in weight reduction.
In one case, CPSI says Bayer was forced to spend $20M in ads to correct its own erroneous advertising about a birth control product.
RBR-TVBR observation: This of course underscores the value of the advice we all received as children, that honesty is the best policy.
As far as the battle to keep false advertising off of the airwaves goes, Bayer would usually fall into the category of a company in an arena where an expert opinion is likely needed to know if a statement is stretching the truth or unsupported by peer-reviewed research.
Most broadcasters know to be on the lookout for obvious snake-oil weight remedies and miracle cures, but you don’t expect that sort of thing from such an internationally-known and respected brand. That’s why public interest groups like CSPI and the agencies mentioned above are needed. We can only do our best and be thankful for expert help when we can get it.