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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.


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.

AFC Board Cert


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

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.


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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July 9, 2018

Preparation H: What Happened to the “H”?

Filed under: Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:52 am

Some products have been around so long and are so familiar to shoppers that everyone knows exactly what the product is by just seeing or hearing its name. We know that Ex-Lax is a laxative, that Pepto-Bismol is for an upset stomach, and that Preparation H is for shrinking your hemorrhoids.

Recently, a friend of MrConsumer’s asked him to pick up a box of Preparation H cream — the one that had one-percent hydrocortisone in it. He didn’t want the one with lidocaine, nor the regular ointment, nor the regular cream, but only the cream in the red box with the added hydrocortisone to treat both his hemorrhoids and his itching.

Preparation H

After purchasing it, and not being familiar with the ingredients in the product, MrConsumer discovered there was only one active ingredient in it.


Preparation H active ingredients

The only ingredient that actually did anything was the hydrocortisone, according to the label. If that is the case, then what the heck is in the regular Preparation H cream without hydrocortisone?


Preparation H regular cream ingredients

Wow… a whole bunch of stuff for shrinking hemorrhoids and treating itching. What became instantly clear was that the Preparation H hydrocortisone product was just plain old 1% hydrocortisone, like any other brand of hydrocortisone, and had little to do with Preparation H as people know and understand it.

Preparation H hydrocortisone 1% costs $9.29 at CVS. A tube of 1% hydrocortisone at Dollar Tree costs $1. Yet MrConsumer’s friend swears by the brand name which is technically incapable of shrinking hemorrhoids.


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June 25, 2018

This is a Weight Loss Pill, Right?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:02 am

Last year, a consumer purchased a bottle of Garcinia Cambogia Extract from a Vitamin Shoppe location in California believing that this product could help her lose weight.

Vtiamin Shoppe


In much smaller print, the bottle was labeled “weight management” and “appetite control” leading her to believe this was just the type of product she was looking for. (The caret after those terms merely refers to the standard fine print disclosure on the back of the label that the FDA has not evaluated these claims.)

Apparently she did a little research after purchasing it and found a study or studies from which she concluded that this stuff had been “scientifically proven to be incapable of providing such weight-loss benefits.” So like any good consumer, rather than going back to the store to get a refund, she filed a class action lawsuit alleging misrepresentation and false advertising, among other claims.

To her surprise, the judge ruled against her, saying in his decision:

The first problem with Plaintiff’s complaint is her assertion that the phrases “Weight Management” and “Appetite Control” equate to representations that the Product provides weight-loss benefits. “Weight Management” suggests management or control of one’s weight, whose upward or downward departure may differ depending on an individual person’s goals, i.e., to gain, lose, or maintain one’s weight. “Appetite Control” indicates control of one’s appetite, which may or may not ultimately result in weight-loss. Thus, it is irrelevant whether the alleged studies disprove that the active ingredients in the Product can produce weight-loss benefits because the phrases themselves do not inherently promise weight-loss benefits.

Say what? If putting the terms “weight management” and “appetite control” on a pill bottle doesn’t suggest that the contents are good for losing weight, what do they suggest?


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