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September 10, 2018

Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Goop” Made Unsubstantiated Health Claims

Filed under: Health,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:41 am

Last week, the Orange County California district attorney’s office and other DAs settled a consumer lawsuit against Goop – a lifestyle brand and website created by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The suit contended that Goop made health claims for various products but did not have substantiation to back up those claims.

For example, Goop touted “Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend” this way:

Inner Judge

You can either mix this stuff in water and drink it, or apply it externally to your body “over the liver.” It supposedly would help you get rid of guilt and shame, replacing those feelings with compassion and forgiveness, so as to prevent a spiral into depression. Oh please. What is this, a psychologist in a bottle?

For this crock of **** and unsubstantiated claims about two other products, Paltrow’s company agreed to pay $145,000 in settlement, without admitting any wrongdoing. So much for the company’s statement of values:

We test the waters so that you don’t have to. We will never recommend something that we don’t love, and think worthy of your time and your wallet. We value your trust above all things.

The case against Goop arose because our friends at TruthinAdvertising.com cited more than 50 unsubstantiated health claims made by Paltrow’s company, and sent them to some of the California DAs.

Here are some of the claims made for other flower essence products previously available on the Goop website. They include products to help “cure”: a broken heart such as from death of a loved one; emotional trauma from divorce, OCD, or bad dreams; infertility; auto-immune conditions; writer’s block; perfectionism, talking too much, etc.

Hertz

Scroll down the list.

For more about the case against Goop, here is an ABC Nightline story.




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August 20, 2018

Eye-Opening: Systane vs. Systane Ultra

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:04 am

Continuing our look at line extensions of popular over-the-counter products, we turn our gaze to Systane — a leading brand of eye drops.

Here are two of their lubricating eye drop products:

Systane

The product on the left is regular Systane “long lasting,” while the one on the right is Systane Ultra “high performance.” Based on its name and description, Systane Ultra seems to be a premium product offering “extended protection.”

A check of the active ingredients of both products, however, reveals a surprise.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Systane ingredients

Both regular Systane and Systane Ultra have exactly the same active ingredients and seemingly in the same strength! So is this just another marketing gimmick like the one we spotlighted where regular Aleve and Aleve Back & Muscle have identical active ingredients?

We asked Alcon, the maker of Systane, what the actual difference is between these two products, and why they sell two different products with the exact same active ingredients.

A spokesperson for the company explained that the secret is primarily in the inactive ingredients which differ slightly between the two products. According to her that is why the “Ultra” product performs better.

“Compared to Systane, Systane Ultra has a unique mechanism of action due to the inclusion of sorbitol, which serves to optimize the viscosity of the drop to minimize blur by delaying the cross-linking of other inactive ingredients until the drop is actually in the eye. The way the inactive ingredients cross-link once Systane Ultra is dropped into the eye results in the creation of a viscoelastic protective layer over the ocular surface that reduces friction and is maintained between blinks for prolonged ocular comfort. Finally, the interaction of Systane Ultra with natural components of the tear film (e.g., calcium, zinc, and magnesium) strengthens the cross-linking of the protective layer and prolongs retention of the active ingredients on the ocular surface.” –Alcon spokesperson.

Got that?

Given that the “Ultra” product is nearly 50% more expensive, does it then last 50% longer than their regular one? The company didn’t answer that question.

Who would have suspected that two products with identical active ingredients would function differently because of the inactive ingredients? And that poses a problem for label readers who would not be able to glean that fact simply by examining a product’s contents.




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August 6, 2018

Aleve Back & Muscle – A Miracle of Modern Medicine Marketing

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:33 am

Many people like Aleve because its pain relief is supposed to last for 12 hours. Now they have a new product — Aleve Back & Muscle Pain — and a new commercial to help launch it.

We were curious about the new product and wanted to see what additional ingredients they added. So we checked the back of the regular package and compared it to the new one.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Aleve comparison

They are exactly the same. The only difference is the box.

We asked Bayer why they came out with a “new” product that really was just the same as the old one. A spokesperson replied:

Aleve Back & Muscle Pain offers the same long-lasting pain relief from Aleve. This product is meant to help consumers understand the various pains Aleve can relieve.

We say, the answer is: marketing and taking up shelf space!




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July 30, 2018

The Doctor??? Will See You Now

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:34 am

We received an email from John S. of Massachusetts last week inquiring about an urgent care center that he goes to and that he has heard advertised on the radio. It is called American Family Care.

The consumer says that while he has gotten good care from a physician’s assistant there, their radio ads tout their great doctors.

Indeed a review of their website reveals repeated claims that they are staffed by physicians (and other medical professionals).

staffed by physicians

——
AFC Physicians

There’s no need to make an appointment, you can just walk right in to see a doctor.

The company’s website also claimed that all its doctors are board-certified.


ORIGINAL WEBPAGE
AFC Board Cert

MOUSE PRINT* CHECKS THE CLAIMS

We called 10 Boston area American Family Care locations last week and asked if they always had a doctor on duty. In nine out of 10 locations, they said “no” — not every day, maybe three days a week, it depends on the week, it’s the luck of the draw, today it’s a nurse practitioner, not on Wednesday, etc.

But a funny thing happened just a day after we started asking the company’s chief marketing officer questions about its claims about locations being staffed by board-certified doctors. The webpage where the company talked about its board-certified doctors was changed to read that it had board-certified doctors at “many” of its locations. And it also removed claims that all its doctors were board-certified and that they periodically check to make sure the board-certification is still in effect.


REVISED WEBPAGE
revised webpage

We asked the company to explain why it was representing that patients could see a doctor without an appointment when, at least in the Boston area for the locations checked, it was a hit or miss affair at the time. (Staffing levels may differ in other parts of the country.) We also wanted to listen to or get a transcript of the radio commercial the company was running to see what they were claiming about their doctors. The company never answered our questions nor provided the commercial despite three requests.

One last thing. Not every patient and not every medical issue requires the attention of a doctor. Other health professionals are well-equipped to handle many routine medical problems. The point, however, is that if a company tries to distinguish itself as being staffed with doctors, that is whom patients should reasonably be able to see if they so choose when they visit.

Do you know who’s treating you when you go to an urgent care center? Is it a doctor, a physician’s assistant, a nurse, or some other type of clinician? You have a right to know. Ask!




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July 16, 2018

Not All Ben Gay Products Are Created Equal

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:10 am

Last week, we spotlighted a particular variety of Preparation H that actually had none of the active ingredients found in regular Preparation H cream. It was “Preparation H” in name only.

This week, our trusty mouse looks at the ingredients statements of various Ben Gay products after getting a tip from a reader.

Bengay, as everyone knows, has that distinctive menthol smell and provides pain relief for sore muscles and joints.

Bengay regular

Like many brands, the company has created some line extensions to meet particular preferences of customers. For consumers who don’t like the greasy feel, they have a greaseless version. And for people who find the menthol scent overpowering, they have a vanishing scent variety.

But before you grab one of these newer versions, you better compare the ingredients statements.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Bengay ingredients

The regular version has three different pain-killing ingredients. The greaseless version only has two, and cuts the strength of one of them in half. And the vanishing scent variety, only has one pain-numbing ingredient and it is only one-fourth the strength of the regular product.

And for people who want to get away from creams altogether, Bengay now has an “ultra strength” patch. Despite the name, that patch is missing two of the three pain-relieving ingredients present in the ultra strength cream, and it has only half the menthol strength.

So, while you get a product benefit by choosing one of the newer varieties, you may be trading away some product efficacy that drew you to Bengay in the first place.




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