You're back in the Old West, in a dusty frontier town at high noon. Tumble weeds blow past your boots as you tie up your horse. You notice a crowd of townsfolk gathered. They're listening to a traveling salesmen standing on the back of a wagon offering all sorts of lotions and potions to cure or mitigate life's little aches, pains, and disappointments. Just as he's about to close a sale, you see a man with a badge step out of the crowd, one hand on his holster, and declare to the traveling salesman: "Stop right there, mister! I'm with the FTC, and you'd better have two independent double blind placebo controlled clinical studies with 95% statistical significance to support those there claims or else there's gonna be trouble!" Everyone in the crowd is thinking, "Double blind what?"
How the world has changed when it comes to advertising substantiation requirements. Even in the last three years it's changed.
Over the last three years, the FTC has filed a string of Complaints and has entered into consent decrees in which the agency has articulated the level of scientific substantiation that it wants to see under various circumstances, depending on the kind of advertising claim that is being made.
By many accounts, the agency has set the bar extremely high in these recent cases, even for bona fide responsible companies that were selling legitimate well-received products to largely satisfied consumers with few complaints or returns.
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