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Novartis appeal rejected in US

A United States court has rejected an appeal by the life sciences group, Novartis, against a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruling. The FTC had told the Swiss company to change one of its advertisements on the grounds that it made false claims.

This content was published on August 23, 2000 - 11:31

The market watchdog found that Novartis had misled the public with claims that its "Doan's Pills" were a more effective back pain treatment than others on the market. The FTC said there was no medical evidence to confirm the company's claim.

The FTC had ordered Novartis to add on to each "Doan's Pills" advertisement the phrase: "Even though these pills are effective against back pain, there exists no proof that they are more effective than other treatments on the market".

It told the company to spend $8 million (SFr13.8 million) - the same amount spent promoting the remedy over eight years - on advertisements with the correction.

However, Novartis insisted that its advertisement stating the pills were superior was not contrary to FTC rules. It said the watchdog body had exceeded its authority in calling for the change.

The appeal court in Washington upheld the FTC's ruling, saying that the advertisement was misleading and needed to be corrected.

Novartis said it would appeal further, saying it believes the ruling is contrary to the US constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.

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