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Post date: September 9 1999

Pfizer Agrees To Alter Its Advertising Of Lice Products

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with a leading pharmaceutical company to resolve misleading advertising of its lice treatment products.

Pfizer, Inc. of Manhattan, entered into the settlement with the Attorney General's Office after an investigation concluded that Pfizer had engaged in false advertising and distributed deceptive promotional materials regarding its lice treatment products, Maximum Strength Rid Lice Killing Shampoo, Rid Lice Control Spray, and Rid Egg Removal Comb.

"As children begin a new school year, it is important that safety and efficacy claims for lice treatment products be held to the highest standard," Spitzer said. "We are pleased that Pfizer has agreed voluntarily to discontinue questionable advertising practices and institute a more responsible and measured approach."

The agreement provides for changes in the manner which Pfizer will advertise its lice treatment products and requires they distribute modified advertisements and other promotional and educational materials. In addition, Pfizer has agreed to pay $75,000 to the Attorney General's Office to cover the costs of the investigation.

Specifically, Pfizer has agreed to:

  • cease representing that its shampoo is safe unless it refers consumers to the product label for important safety disclosures regarding use by persons with certain allergies and the risk of irritation to eyes and other mucous membranes;
  • cease its claim that a lice infestation can be cured with a single application. Instead, Pfizer will provide instructions about reapplication and second treatments to ensure it does not mislead customers as to whether they had actually been cured;
  • clarify that its claim of 100 percent efficacy of the egg removal comb pertains only to laboratory tests conducted by trained testers and that individual results may vary;
  • discontinue representing that use of a pediculicide drug product is the only effective way to cure lice infestations; and
  • cease any advertising claim that its lice treatment spray is "safe."

This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Joy Feigenbaum and Shirley Stark of the Consumer Frauds and Protections Bureau and Chief Scientist Michael Surgan of the Environmental Protection Bureau.