For some athletes and fans, September is the equivalent of the start of the sports “new year.” From the FTC’s perspective, it’s a good time to remind retailers that they need appropriate proof to support concussion protection claims for athletic mouthguards. That’s why FTC staff has sent letters to five major retailers, alerting them to concerns about what they’re promising on their websites.
The national discussion about protecting young athletes from concussion has moved from the sports page to the front page. The letters remind the companies that “competent and reliable scientific evidence” generally is needed to substantiate health-related claims – including concussion prevention representations.
Each letter identifies a mouthguard on the retailer’s site sold with a concussion protection claim. The letter reminds the retailer of the FTC’s 2012 settlement with Brain Pad, Inc., and offers two suggestions: 1) Review your site to make sure you’re not making unsupported promises; and 2) Consider contacting the manufacturer for more information about the substantiation for concussion protection claims. According to the letters, FTC staff plans to circle back to the retailers’ sites within 90 days to see how the products are being advertised.
This is the third set of FTC warning letters about concussion protection claims. After the Brain-Pad settlement, we contacted 18 sporting goods manufacturers. We followed up with letters to a dozen other companies.
If you have clients who sell similar products, don’t wait for a letter before double-checking their concussion protection claims. Parents and athletes can find out more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s concussion information site.