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McNEIL TYLENOL AD CLAIM SUBSTANTIATED BY TWO HOSPITAL AUDITS

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

McNEIL TYLENOL AD CLAIM SUBSTANTIATED BY TWO HOSPITAL AUDITS following a consumer challenge of the product's tagline -- "the pain reliever hospitals use most," the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus announced on May 18. NAD said it was satisfied that there was "sufficient basis in the data presented by the advertiser to support" that the "claim was substantiated." In addition to the consumer challenge of the ad claim, NAD independently questioned whether "the fact that Tylenol is also commonly prescribed as an antipyretic influences the tabulation of the number of times it is used as a pain reliever." NAD asked McNeil for data to clarify two questions: (1) whether the pain reliever used most by hospitals is OTC Tylenol or J&J's prescription product, Tylenol 3; and (2) whether the fact that Tylenol is frequently prescribed as an antipyretic is "factored into the comparison between acetaminophen and ibuprofen as the pain relievers hospitals use most." McNeil submitted data from a 1992 hospital audit that identified the particular indication for each drug recommended by a doctor. According to NAD, the audit found that Tylenol was prescribed and dispensed for pain relief a total of 954,000 times, "as compared to a total of 668,000 mentions for pain relief indications for all OTC and prescription strength products combined." The number of times that Tylenol was prescribed as an antipyretic were tabulated separately in the audit. In addition, NAD found that McNeil showed that "even adding aspirin usage to the non-Tylenol pain-relief figures, Tylenol still exceeds that of all other products in this category." McNeil also submitted a portion of another 1992 hospital audit prepared by market survey firm IMS showing that OTC Tylenol outsold prescription Tylenol 3 by a ratio of six-to-one in hospitals.
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