ERSP Finds Healthy Directions Can Support Certain Claims for ‘OxyRub,’ Recommends Marketer Modify Certain Claims

New York, NY – Jan. 18, 2017 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that Healthy Directions, LLC can support general performance claims for OxyRub, a topical pain relief cream, but recommended the marketer modify or discontinue certain claims.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims for OxyRub, including:

  • “Nearly Twice the Relief of a Leading Pain Cream”
  • “Relief starts in minutes, lasts for hours”; “Offers relief for hours”
  • “Provides fast relief from arthritis, bursitis, aches, bruises, and joint pain”; “In just minutes OxyRub, penetrates deep inside your joints and muscles to soothe pain from: arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, strains, sprains, and more.”
  • I’ve used many other products, but OxyRub works better. And I find it is better to use more—the more I use, the better it works.”
  • “I’ve started using new OxyRub on about 10 of the 14 patients I see every day. I repeat 10 patients a day. Why so often? Because nothing else works so well at healing their hurts. Nothing.”
  • “In the morning I felt so good that I skipped taking my pills.” 

According to the marketer, OxyRub contains 1.25 percent menthol and is used to relieve pain. As support for its performance claims, Healthy Directions cited the FDA’s External Analgesic Tentative Final Monograph (TFM). The TFM classifies menthol as a counterirritant active ingredient when included at concentrations of 1.25 to 16 percent and under the monograph, counterirritant active ingredients are recognized as safe and effective “for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints.” This, in combination with a study regarding the onset of menthol’s action, supported speed and duration claims. Similarly, ERSP determined that the marketer provided a reasonable basis for claims that OxyRub “Provides fast relief from arthritis, bursitis, aches, bruises, and joint pain” and “In just minutes OxyRub, penetrates deep inside your joints and muscles to soothe pain from: arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, strains, sprains, and more.”

To support the claim that OxyRub provides “Nearly Twice the Relief of a Leading Pain Cream,” Healthy Directions submitted a clinical study comparing OxyRub to a leading topical pain relief cream. On Day 8, the OxyRub group approached double the reduction in pain intensity. The reduction in pain intensity between the OxyRub and menthol cream only group was also statistically significant. Thus, ERSP determined that the claim was adequately substantiated.

Although ERSP was not troubled by consumer testimonials that spoke to the general efficacy of the product, it also determined that several of the statements from consumers that were communicated in the advertising overstated the results that could be typically expected by consumers and it was requested that these particular consumer testimonials (e.g., “…nothing else works so well at healing their hurts. Nothing.”) be modified or discontinued.

Finally, after reviewing the negative option offer, ERSP determined that Healthy Directions sufficiently disclosed the terms and conditions of the monthly subscription plan which consumers enroll in to receive the free trial offer.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “Healthy Directions appreciates the opportunity to participate in ERSP self-regulatory process. … Although we disagree with ERSP’s determination that certain testimonials overstated the typical results of the product, we will take into consideration ERSP’s recommendations in future advertising.”