Thursday, January 17, 2008

miracle of modern medicine marketing

Redeeming my $10 Award at Vitamin Shoppe last night (doing my part for the CRM side) I noticed this product displayed at the register. I'd just spent the day tweaking copy to adhere to FDA guidelines which are impressively strict regarding pharmaceuticals--the drug I was writing about actually does work for most people, but because 1 person in 100 might not find it effective I must say "may result in the appearance of symptom relief" instead of "will relieve symptoms."

So how can a medicine get away with an unequivocal promise to relieve jet lag entirely?

Because technically, it's not a drug. It's a homeopathic medicine. Advertisers don't have to prove that their homeopathic remedies actually work. They only have to show that their remedy has a history of being used to treat a condition. The FDA allows homeopathic products to be sold as long as specific health claims are not made in advertising or on product labels.

It appears as if No-Jet-Lag is promising no jet lag, but according to FDA guidelines, it isn't. No-Jet-Lag isn't a claim, it's the name of the product. On the back of the package, product copy states it's "for the relief of tiredness associated with air travel." But my guess is, if No-Jet-Lag was regulated as other medicines are, they'd be prohibited from making their name a product-promise that's printed no less than eight times in huge type on a package the size of a box of Chiclets.

Impulsively,(it might work!) I threw a pack in my bag and was stunned that it added $11.99 to the bill. Whoever's making this stuff must be raking it in.

When I got home, I looked up the manufacturer on the web. Miers Laboratories is in New Zealand where it makes an array of other miracle medicines, too: Drink Ease, for hangovers. Femme Ease which somehow relieves not only menstrual problems, but infections, PMS, even fibroids. And No-Shift-Lag which purports to relieve night shift workers of increased irritability, moodiness, sensitivity, defensiveness, forgetfulness and/or constipation that comes from late shifts.

They don't sell that one here. But you could probably web order.


Irene Done said...

Is this the same loophole situation that allows all those male enhancement remedies to advertise? Enzyte's "Bob" campaign is hilarious but the claims are hilariously outlandish. Last I read, Enzyte's maker was being sued for mail fraud -- but not for lying in an ad.

Alan Wolk said...

It is amazing how overregulated the pharma industry is -though those "fair balance" warnings have become wallpaper we just tune out, so how effective are they really?