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Post date: January 11 2000

Bayer Agrees To Alter Aspirin Advertising

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a joint federal-state settlement with a major aspirin manufacturer to resolve misleading claims made in the company's national advertising campaign.

The Bayer Corporation of Morristown, New Jersey, settled allegations made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade Commission, and Attorneys General Spitzer of New York State and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut over its claims relating to the use of Bayer aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

"As the general population ages, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the risks of heart attacks and strokes and they are becoming more attentive to potential treatments," Spitzer said. "It is for that reason that appropriate advertising standards be aggressively enforced to protect the public from unnecessary and potentially harmful or serious side effects."

The allegations involve claims made in commercials on television, radio, and the Internet that regular aspirin use is appropriate for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes in the general adult population. The FTC and FDA were particularly concerned that, although an aspirin regimen is effective in reducing the risk of stroke or heart attack in certain groups of people, its regular use can cause health problems and therefore should be undertaken under the supervision of a health care professional.

Attorney General Spitzer further charged that the Bayer Corporation made these therapeutic performance claims without a reasonable basis and without competent and reliable scientific evidence supporting the claims.

In settling these claims, the Bayer Corporation has agreed to: alter advertising of its aspirin product by providing better instruction to the public about consulting a physician before beginning an aspirin regimen; stop implying that the benefits provided by Bayer's aspirin product are unique, unless that claim can be validated; and rely only upon competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any health claims.

Bayer also agreed to pay $30,000 to the Spitzer's office to cover the costs of the investigation.

In settling allegations made by the Federal Trade Commission, Bayer Corporation also has agreed to launch a $1 million consumer education campaign.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Stephen Mindell and Herbert Israel of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.