NAD Recommends Alcon Laboratories Discontinue Certain Claims for ‘Clear Care’ Products, Including Certain ‘Natural Tears’ Claims

New York, NY – Dec. 14, 2017 – The National Advertising Division has recommended Alcon Laboratories, Inc. discontinue claims that because they are preservative-free, the company’s Clear Care and Clear Care Plus contact lens solutions are “more like natural tears.” The claims were challenged by Bausch & Lomb, a competing maker of products for contact-lens patients.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Both parties sell lens-care solutions intended to clean and disinfect contact lenses, including multi-purpose solutions. A primary difference between peroxide solutions and MPS is that peroxide solutions rely on hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant, while MPS rely on other disinfectants.  Alcon’s Clear Care products are formulated with hydrogen peroxide. B&L’s competing MPS products are sold under the brand names Biotrue and renu.

Claims at issue included:

  • GO BEYOND MPS. Upgrade your patients to the bubbling power of CLEAR CARE

PLUS for: … Better comfort …; No preservatives to be more like natural tears.

  • BETTER OVERALL COMFORT* (*Compared to multi-purpose solutions in symptomatic users.)
  • BETTER COMFORT* (*Compared to Multi-Purpose Solutions; Users experiencing contact lens-related dryness and/or discomfort.)
  • Dryness or discomfort with your contact lenses? Get more hours of comfortable wear with CLEAR CARE PLUS than a multi-purpose solution.
  • Cleaner-Feeling Lenses* (*Compared to Multi-Purpose Solutions; Users experiencing contact lens-related dryness and/or discomfort.)
  • Upgrade from your basic multi-purpose solution to the fresh lens feeling of CLEAR CARE PLUS.
  • HydraGlyde Moisture Matrix means MORE COMFORT.
  • Exclusive HydraGlyde for long-lasting moisture.

At the outset, the advertiser said it had permanently discontinued the claim “More Like Natural Tears than Biotrue,” featured on a shelf-talker before the NAD’s initial inquiry. The advertiser asserted during the NAD process that it had discontinued use of the phrase “or chemicals” in the claim Clear Care and Clear Care Plus are also preservative-free “which means no preservatives or chemicals from multi-purpose solutions enter your eyes, which could cause irritation” has been permanently discontinued.

In reliance on the advertiser’s representations that the claims have been permanently discontinued, NAD did not review the claims on their merits. However, the voluntarily discontinued claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

The advertiser also agreed to suspend the display of consumer reviews on Clear Care websites pending an internal review to ensure the reviews are authentic customer reviews, representative of the range of product reactions and reflective of actual opinions. The voluntarily suspended display of reviews will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their suspension and the advertiser agreed to comply.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the advertiser could not support claims that the absence of preservatives alone makes Clear Care and Clear Care Plus “more like natural tears.” NAD recommended that the claims “Preservative free to be more like natural tears” and “No preservatives to be more like natural tears” be discontinued. NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from promoting that its products are “preservative free.”

NAD recommended that superior disinfection claims be discontinued or modified to avoid conveying the unsupported message that the bubbling action of hydrogen peroxide provides superior disinfection.  NAD noted that nothing in the decision prevents the advertiser from promoting the bubbling action of hydrogen peroxide and that this mechanism of action is different from multi-purpose solutions, contributes to cleaning and allows users to “see” that the solution is working.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims of superior comfort and a “cleaner lens feeling,” along with claims that Clear Care Plus users reported less blurry vision than multi-purpose solution users.

NAD recommended that the challenged advertisement featuring the 6 Hour Soak Time claim be discontinued.  However, NAD noted that nothing in the decision prevents the advertiser from making a monadic claim about the need to soak lenses for 6 hours when using CLEAR CARE PLUS.

NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the claim “3X Triple Action Cleaning” to remove the reference to “3X.”

NAD determined that the claims that Clear Care Plus provides “long-lasting moisture” were supported.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.