New York, NY – May 13, 2013 – The National Advertising Review Board has recommended that Healthy Directions, LLC, discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s Joint Advantage Gold dietary supplement, including claims that the product eases pain in seven days and is made with ingredients traditionally used by the Aboriginal people of Australia.
NARB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry system of self-regulation.
The National Advertising Division, an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, had conducted a review of Health Directions’ advertising and recommended that the company discontinue certain claims made in print, broadcast and Internet advertising, including claims that referenced reductions in joint pain “in as little as seven days.” The company appealed NAD’s findings to NARB.
NARB noted in its decision that Healthy Directions offered several studies on glucosamine and relied on one of those studies, conducted in 1980 on hospitalized patients, to support its claim that glucosamine reduced joint pain/discomfort/stiffness in seven days. However, previous NAD cases have held that the vast body of studies on glucosamine demonstrates its effectiveness in improving joint health after approximately six weeks, and one study on hospitalized patients is not sufficient to substantiate glucosamine’s effectiveness at seven days.
Following its review of the evidence in the record, the NARB panel determined that Healthy Directions had not met its burden to provide competent and reliable scientific evidence showing that any of the ingredients in Joint Advantage Gold are effective in providing fast relief or reduction in joint pain/discomfort/stiffness in seven days. The panel recommended the advertiser discontinue such claims.
The panel further recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim that Joint Advantage Gold is “formulated to work throughout your entire body, in EVERY joint from your neck and shoulders to your toes.”
The panel noted that most studies relied on by Healthy Directions assessed only the effect of the product on the knee. While two studies were not limited to the knee, the panel found the studies flawed and determined they could not provide a reasonable basis for advertised claims that Joint Advantage Gold is formulated to work in every joint.
The panel further recommends that Healthy Directions discontinue its claim that wild rosella and aniseed myrtle are herbs traditionally used in Australia to reduce inflammation or joint pain.
Finally, the panel recommends that Healthy Directions discontinue consumer testimonials that claim (a) Joint Advantage Gold is effective in eliminating joint pain, (b) Joint Advantage Gold is effective in eliminating or reducing pain during strenuous activities, (c) Joint Advantage Gold is effective after 4 days use, and (d) Joint Advantage Gold is effective for a particular age group unless Healthy Directions has reliable and competent scientific evidence to support the claim with respect to that age group.
The testimonials at issue included an 82-year-old man who said the product allowed him to ski without pain, and a 90-year-old woman who said that after taking Joint Advantage Gold for four days she had “phenomenal” improvement and was able to walk with no pain.
The panel noted that advertisers may not make claims, via consumer testimonials, that could not be substantiated if made directly by the advertiser. The Federal Trade Commission Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising make it clear that endorsements describing the performance of an advertised product will be interpreted as representing that the product is effective for the purpose depicted, and the advertiser must have adequate substantiation to support such effectiveness claims.
Because Healthy Directions could not substantiate the claimed effectiveness of its product as related by these testimonials, the panel stated, “it should not make the claims even if it is prepared to explain the results that consumers will generally achieve in using its product.”
Healthy Directions, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while it was “disappointed in the panel’s decision, we are a firm believer in the self-regulatory process and will modify any future advertising of Joint Advantage Gold to conform with the recommendations set forth in the decision.”