New York, NY – July 23, 2014 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that ANTECH Diagnostics, Inc., the maker of the AccuPlex4 screening test for canine heartworm and tick-borne illnesses, discontinue advertising claims challenged by IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., the maker of the competing SNAP 4Dx Plus diagnostic test.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
IDEXX and ANTECH both provide diagnostic testing products and services used by veterinarians to screen for the presence of a variety of common, serious and potentially deadly illnesses infecting dogs, including tick-borne Lyme disease and heartworm disease.
Both parties offer multiplex tests (which screen for multiple pathogens with one blood sample) and stand-alone tests (which screen for a single pathogen).
The claims at issue were directed primarily to an audience of veterinary professionals, although certain claims appeared in a consumer-oriented guide for pet owners. Challenged claims included:
- Tests prove that AccuPlex4 provides significantly more accurate and “sensitive” testing of low-worm burden (1-2 worms) heartworm infection than SNAP 4Dx Plus, with the ability to detect positive results up to one week earlier.”
- Tests prove that AccuPlex4 permits substantially “earlier” and more sensitive detection for three tick-borne illnesses – Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis – with fewer false negatives, than SNAP 4Dx Plus.
- Tests prove that AccuPlex4’s Lyme disease test is able to detect infection earlier, provides broader and more comprehensive disease information that IDEXX’s SNAP 4Dx Plus and stand-alone Quant C6 tests, and can distinguish between vaccination (false positive) and exposure/infection.
- Unlike AccuPlex4, IDEXX’s Quant C6 Lyme disease test is not a “quantitative” test, cannot measure response to antibiotics, and can only be used to detect chronic or late stage Lyme infections.
In this case, the advertiser submitted no head-to-head product performance data comparing its multiplex diagnostic product – AccuPlex4 – to the challenger’s multiplex test – SNAP 4Dx Plus – or its Quant C6 Lyme test.
Rather, the advertiser drew its support from, among other things, cross-trial comparisons to studies that examined the performance of IDEXX stand-alone tests, or studies which assessed the performance of the SNAP 4Dx – a predecessor product to the challenger’s SNAP 4Dx Plus. NAD determined that the advertiser could not rely on data for IDEXX stand-alone tests or SNAP 4Dx to make claims against the SNAP 4Dx Plus simply because they use the same “platform.”
Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended the advertiser discontinue or modify all but one of the challenged claims. NAD found that the advertiser could support the claim that “there is a common assumption that the Quant C6 value has clinical significance related to Lyme disease severity or response to therapy and clinical outcomes, but this concept has never been proven or validated in veterinary and/or human medicine.”
ANTECH, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company was “extremely disappointed” with NAD’s findings.
The company noted, however, that it “remains dedicated first and foremost to medical innovation and the advancement of science and technology for diagnosing and treating veterinary disease. Therefore, rather than expending additional time and resources in an effort to challenge NAD’s determinations, ANTECH intends to modify its advertising on a go-forward basis in a manner consistent with NAD’s stated concerns, and to take NAD’s stated concerns into consideration in its future advertising.”