FTC Charges Walgreen Drugstore Chain

with Falsely Advertising "Advil"

Company Agrees to Settle Charges

FTC News Release
February 26, 1987

The Federal Trade Commission today charged that Walgreen Co., one of the nation's largest retail drugstore chains, made unsubstantiated advertising claims for "Advil" pain reliever. Walgreen agreed not to make unsubstantiated claims for Advil or other analgesic products, under a consent agreement announced today.

The Commission vote to accept the consent agreement was 4-1, with Chairman Daniel Oliver dissenting.

A complaint issued with the agreement alleged Walgreen advertised Advil as a "Prescription Pain Reliever … without a prescription!" and "An anti-inflammatory … a source of comfort for people who experience arthritis pain." The Commission charged Walgreen could not substantiate these claims.

According to the complaint, the company did not have a reasonable basis for claims that Advil is an effective anti- inflammatory drug for arthritis and that it can be substituted for prescription forms of ibuprofen, the product's active ingredient.

Walgreen agreed that it would not make unsubstantiated advertising claims for Advil or any other over-the-counter analgesic drug product.

Walgreen, which is based in Deerfield, IL, has more than 1000 stores throughout the United States. The Commission is challenging only Walgreen's advertising claims and not any claims made by American Home Products Co., which makes Advil.

In a statement explaining his dissent, Chairman Daniel Oliver expressed skepticism that the challenged ads injured consumers. Mr. Oliver said that Walgreen ran the ads for a short time only, and that the ads were designed to inform consumers that certain Walgreen stores carried Advil. Moreover, the Chairman noted, if it were to apply the consent agreement's provisions broadly, the FTC could disadvantage small, independent retailers who — unlike Walgreen — may lack resources to verify drug manufacturer claims for many products.

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