FTC Charges Sterling Drug Made Unsubstantiated Therapeutic
Performance Claims in Ads for Midol Products

Company to Pay $375,000 Civil Penalty

FTC News Release
June 12, 1990

The Federal Trade Commission has charged in federal court that Sterling Drug, Inc., made unsubstantiated therapeutic performance claims in advertising certain "Midol" brand products. The company has agreed to pay $375,000 in civil penalties to settle the charges.

The FTC alleged that Sterling violated an order that became effective in 1985 which prohibits the company from making therapeutic performance claims unless it has a reasonable basis to substantiate the claims. Under a consent decree filed June 8 with the Commission's new complaint, Sterling has agreed not to violate the order in the future.

According to the complaint, from March 1985 until January 1986 and in April 1988, Sterling ran certain ads for "Original Formula Midol" and "Maximum Strength Midol for Cramps." The ads claimed or implied that one of the active ingredients in those products, cinnamedrine hydrochloride, helps relieve muscle contractions fast and is a muscle relaxant for menstrual cramps. The company did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence for those claims, the complaint charges.

The complaint also cites ads that ran from April 1986 until June 1986 for "Maximum Strength Midol PMS." Those ads, printed and broadcast in Spanish, claimed that the product provides "total" or "complete relief" for all symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. But, according to the complaint, the company did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence for those claims.

Since November 1988, Sterling has also run ads for "Original Midol Multi-Symptom Formula" and "Maximum Strength Midol Multi-Symptom Formula," which claim that the products have a combination of ingredients that relieves menstrual bloating or water-weight gain. The complaint charges the company did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence for making those claims.

The Department of Justice filed the complaint and consent decree, at the FTC's request, in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The consent decree will not take effect until approved by the court.

Sterling is based in New York City.

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