Both the Food and Drug Administration and the National Advertising Division recently cracked down on advertising claims for anti-aging products.
In a warning letter to Lancôme, the FDA cautioned the company about claims that its Genifique and Absolue skincare products can “reconstruct skin to denser quality” and “stimulate cell generation” to create a younger look around the eyes.
Such claims promote medical benefits that have not been established or approved by the agency, according to the letter.
The letter cited several claims on the company’s Web site in August 2012 for the Absolue and Genifique lines. Questionable claims included that the Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate “boosts the activity of genes” and “stimulates production of youth proteins,” and claims that the Absolue Eye Precious Cells Advanced Regenerating and Reconstructing Eye Cream “has been shown to improve the condition around the stem cells and stimulate cell regeneration to reconstruct skin to a denser quality.”
The L’Oreal subsidiary should halt the claims unless the company plans to submit a new drug application to the FDA, the agency cautioned. Failure to correct the violations could result in enforcement action as well as an injunction against further distribution and the seizure of the products currently on the shelves.
In a separate action, the NAD recommended that Origins Natural Resources, Inc., modify and/or discontinue anti-aging claims for its Plantscription Serum and Plantscription Eye Treatment.
“Nature’s Plantscription rivals an anti-wrinkle prescription” and “Two dabs a day helps keep the surgeon away” were two of the claims about which the self-regulatory body expressed concern.
Such claims impermissibly imply that the products produce a benefit similar to prescription anti-aging treatments and other cosmetic procedures, the NAD said. Despite a disclaimer that the product is “Not the same as a prescription and doesn’t operate anything like surgery,” the context of the advertisements “convey[s] the unsupported message that the Plantscription products provide results comparable to cosmetic procedures (hence, keeping the surgeon away).”
Origins lacked head-to-head testing to substantiate performance claims to comparative prescription products, the NAD said, and claims using the term “repair” (such as “help visibly repair 4 major signs of aging”) should be discontinued for lack of supporting evidence.
References to the “natural” products should also be halted, the NAD determined. “The product name, the plant imagery surrounding the product(s) and the repeated references to ‘nature’ (‘naturally youthful look’ and ‘amazing new lift from nature’) could overstate the extent to which the products are actually ‘natural.’ ” Advertisements should be modified “to avoid any potential overstatement of the extent to which its products are, in fact, natural.”
Origins said it plans to appeal the decision to the National Advertising Review Board.
To read the NAD’s press release about the decision, click here.
To read the FDA’s warning letter to Lancôme, click here.
Why it matters: While the two matters address separate issues, they serve to remind advertisers that sufficient evidence is necessary to support anti-aging claims.