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NAD to DSE Healthcare Solutions: Modify ads for Cystex products

NEW YORK — The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on Wednesday recommended that DSE Healthcare Solutions, which markets both Cystex urinary pain relief tablets and Cystex liquid cranberry complex with Proantinox, modify its advertising to better distinguish the two products.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, reviewed the advertising claims at issue as part of its ongoing monitoring program and in conjunction with NAD’s initiative with the Council for Responsible Nutrition to expand NAD’s review of dietary-supplement claims.

NAD requested substantiation for claims that included:

  • “Cystex helps manage UTIs ... and now promotes urinary health”;

  • “Cystex is the trusted urinary health brand that has helped millions of women manage the pain and discomfort of urinary tract infections”;

  • “If you are experiencing signs of a UTI, you can manage it with Cystex urinary pain relief tablets, the only over-the-counter urinary pain reliever available with a dual-action formula that not only eases the pain and burning caused by a urinary tract infection, but also contains an antibacterial (methenamine) to help the infection from getting worse while you wait for your doctor’s appointment”; and

  • “Cystex both manages the pain associated with a UTI and reduced [sic] the progression of the bacteria.”

NAD noted that it also was concerned that claims for the Cystex over-the-counter drug might be understood as applying to the Cystex liquid cranberry dietary supplement, since both products are featured in the same advertising.

The advertiser explained that it markets two separate Cystex products for urinary health: Cystex urinary pain relief tablets, an over-the-counter product, and Cystex liquid cranberry complex with Proantinox, a dietary supplement.

Key to NAD’s review was whether visitors to the Cystex website would interpret the claims made as applicable to both products. Further, NAD questioned whether the performance claims for the dietary supplement were supported by competent and reliable evidence.

NAD noted that the advertising at issue essentially includes three performance claims; that Cystex helps to “manage the symptoms” of urinary tract infections, prevent such infections and prevent existing infections from worsening.

In response to NAD’s concerns, the advertiser explained that the OTC product and the dietary supplement product are, in fact, different products, both designed to facilitate urinary tract health. DSE Healthcare contended that each product possessed its own scientific evidence in support of its claims, and that neither was dependent on the other to function as advertised. Further, DSE maintained that there is no specific link between the Cystex OTC drug and the dietary supplement product, other than the fact that they are both sold by the same company, under the Cystex name, and each has an impact on urinary tract health.

DSE Healthcare, however, acknowledged NAD’s concerns about this mixed message and represented that it would modify its website and take additional steps to make clear that it is selling two separate products. Further, DSE represented that it would modify any claims that suggest that the dietary supplement can manage or treat the symptoms associated with UTIs, NAD stated. NAD determined that the advertiser’s evidence could support the claims at issue as those claims are made for the OTC product. However, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claim that the Cystex dietary supplement “helps manage UTIs.”

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