The second largest condom manufacturer in the United States, London International, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its ads claiming that Ramses brand condoms are thirty percent stronger than the leading brand of condom and break thirty percent less often are unsubstantiated and deceptive. The agreement to settle the charges will prohibit comparative claims about the strength, efficacy or risk of breakage of any condom in the future unless London possesses and relies upon competent and reliable scientific evidence to back up the claims.
"It is vital to substantiate claims like these because they affect the health and safety of millions of Americans," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Consumers need reliable information about this product to make informed personal choices."
In fact, public health organizations believe that latex condoms are generally efficacious when used properly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Condoms are classified as medical devices and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Every latex condom manufactured in the United States is tested for defects before it is packaged."
London International Group, Inc., is based in Norcross, Georgia. It advertises Ramses condoms in major magazines, including Rolling Stone, Ebony Man and People.
According to the complaint detailing the charges, ads that claimed Ramses had ". . . 30% more strength than the leading brand," and were ". . . 30% stronger than the leading brand," suggest that Ramses brand condoms are 30 percent stronger and break 30 percent less often than the leading brand. In fact, according to the complaint, London did not possess adequate substantiation to support the claims.
The agreement to settle the charges would prohibit London from making any comparative claims about the strength, the risk of breakage or the efficacy of any condom unless it relies on competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the claim.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed settlement was 4-0. A summary of the proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly and will be subject to public comment for 60 days, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an 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 $11,000.
Copies of the complaint, consent agreement and an analysis to aid public comment are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov or by calling 202-326-3627. FTC documents also 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 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. 962 3004)