20 October 2014

Mindless mildness from Johnson & Johnson highlights a double standard

Have a look at this picture of a common supermarket product and consider the following: In the world of the average consumer, what does "mild" mean? Surely mild is only ever a comparative term - as in "mild, moderate, severe" for grading diseases or "mild, medium, hot" for spices. Can something simply be mild without reference to something else which, by comparison, is not?

And how do you prove mildness? "Clinically", no less...?

In the ethical side of its operations - prescription drugs and medical devices - US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson would never get away with using a hanging, unqualified comparative like "mild" in promotional material targeted at health professionals. The ever stricter Medicines Australia Code of Conduct, authorised by the ACCC, expressly forbids this kind of wording, and their competitors would launch a volley of complaints the moment the package hit the shelves.

So why is J&J permitted to base its promotion of a consumer product on a vague, meaningless and possibly misleading term, completely unsupported by any attribution to trials or any other form of science? After all, consumers are actually far less able than clinicians to validate and question a claim like "clinically proven mildness".

1 comment:

Michael Dunne said...

JnJ in the US might not get away with a hanging, ethically or otherwise, but according to this suggestion tossed up by facebook, Alex Gorsky seems intent on not being any wise: (comedy paper or genuine?)