- Novartis has come under fire from the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Business Bureaus in response to its claim that Theraflu "gets to work in 5 minutes." Pfizer isn't having it, and neither is the NAD.
- Pfizer complained to the NAD that Novartis's "5-minute claim" for Theraflu was misleading, because the ingredients in Theraflu—acetaminophen, dextromethorphan and phenylephrine—are standard in OTC severe cold remedies.
- Novartis pushed back by asserting that the claim refers to pharmacokinetics and not relief of symptoms. The NAD was not convinced.
The issue of inaccurate or false claims is often considered in the context of Rx advertising; however, OTC advertising is also subject to laws that require accuracy. It seems that Novartis has come up short in that department, and they got called on it—Pfizer is competing with Novartis in the OTC cold relief market, with Advil and Robitussin. And with GSK set to take over part of Novartis' OTC division, things are very much in flux for the company now—and the entire industry—with respect to OTC drugs.