FTC Alleges Claims Are Not Backed by Adequate Scientific Evidence
In a settlement reached with the Federal Trade Commission, mouthguard marketer Brain-Pad, Inc. and its President Joseph Manzo are barred from making unsupported claims that their mouthguards reduce the risk of concussions from lower jaw impacts, reduce the risk of concussions generally, or have been clinically proven to do either. As part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from over-hyped health claims, the settlement also prohibits Brain-Pad and Manzo from misrepresenting the health benefits of any mouthguard or other athletic equipment designed to protect the brain from injury.
According to the FTC, Brain-Pad and Manzo made their claims about the mouthguards’ concussion-protecting qualities on product packaging and in Internet and print advertisements. On packaging for the Brain-Pad Pro-Plus Junior mouthguard, the defendants claimed the device “creates new brain safety space!” and “Reduces Risk of Concussions! From Lower Jaw Impacts.” Similarly, packaging for the adult-size Brain-Pad Double Mouth Guard proclaims that the device, “Reduces risk of CONCUSSIONS! Protects Upper AND Lower Teeth!” The mouthguards retail for $10 to $30.
Mouthguards can help to shield a person’s teeth from being injured, and some can reduce impact to the lower jaw,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But it’s a big leap to say these devices can also reduce the risk of concussions. The scientific evidence to make that claim just isn’t adequate.”
The FTC administrative complaint charges the Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based Brain-Pad and Manzo with deceptive advertising for claiming that their mouthguards reduce the risk of concussions from lower jaw impacts, reduce the risk of concussions generally, and have been clinically proven to do both.
Consumers should carefully evaluate health claims made by advertisers. For more information about concussions, see: Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.
The Commission vote to accept the consent agreement package containing the proposed consent order for public comment was 4-1, with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch voting no. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through September 17, 2012, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit written comments electronically or in paper form by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section. Comments can be submitted electronically by clicking here. Comments in paper form should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondent has actually violated the law. A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the respondent that the law has been violated. 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 $16,000.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
(FTC File No. 1223073)
(Brain Pad NR)
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