FTC Gives Final Approval to a Consent Agreement with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products

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The Federal Trade Commission has given final approval to a consent agreement with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products, a subsidiary of the personal health-care products giant, Johnson & Johnson. The consent order settles charges over the ad campaign for K-Y Plus Nonoxynol-9 Spermicidal Lubricant, which touted the product as "condom insurance" to protect against unwanted pregnancy, and HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases. Among other things, the FTC charged that the ads made false claims about the failure rate of condoms. The Commission's action makes the consent order provisions binding.

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products is based in Skillman, New Jersey.

Under the final order, the respondent and its parent company, Johnson and Johnson, are prohibited from misrepresenting in any manner the results or conclusions of any test or study concerning any over-the-counter products with a use relating to human reproduction, reproductive organs or sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). The settlement also requires them to have competent and reliable scientific evidence for any claim they make about the efficacy of over-the-counter contraceptives or products to protect against STDs. In addition, when advertising any personal lubricant and/or spermicide, they must have competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up any claims they make regarding:

  • the failure rate of any contraceptive method;
  • the ability of the product to protect against the development of tiny holes in condoms during use;
  • the ability of the product to protect against HIV and other viruses; and
  • the health-related benefits of the product.

The consent agreement was announced for a public-comment period on Oct. 11, 1995. The Commission vote to issue it in final form occurred on Jan. 18, and was 5-0, with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga issuing a statement in which she said she concurred "except to the extent that the order imposes obligations on Johnson & Johnson (the parent company . . .), which is not named in the accompanying complaint."

NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.

A news release summarizing the complaint and consent agreement was issued at the time the Commission accepted the consent agreement for public comment. Copies of that release, the complaint and final order, and Commissioner Azcuenaga's statement are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 202-326- 2502. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov

(FTC File No. 943 3277)
(Docket No. C-3636)

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