TGA says instant isn’t instant

Manufacturers were sensitive about each other's ads.

Newspaper reports yesterday revealed the Therapeutic goods administration (TGA) has asked both Colgate and GlaxoSmithKline to stop advertising those products that offer “instant relief” for sensitive teeth, on the grounds that they don’t.

Reports in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph revealed both companies made complaints about each other’s advertising to the TGA. The complaints related to claims that the toothpastes Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief and Sensodyne Rapid Relief give users instant relief from the discomfort of sensitive teeth. The regulator has fund both companies’ claims are inaccurate.

The inaccurate claims centre around the idea of “instant” relief, which both companies qualified meant relief within 60 seconds. For example, countering a complaint from Colgate-Palmolive, GlaxoSmithKline argued that when it said “instant” about Sensodyne Rapid Relief on its website, it was “clearly linked to a clarification that the product works in 60 seconds”. Responding to GlaxoSmithKline’s complaint, Colgate said that its toothpaste gave “instant” relief after it had been rubbed in to a tooth for 60 seconds. It found claims of “instant” relief when it could take several minutes to treat the whole mouth were misleading—even with disclaimers. The panel also found that could not be said to be “rapid” when it took 60 seconds per sensitive tooth.

“As an extreme example, the panel noted that the advertised product (Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief) when used with normal tooth brushing rather than applied with the finger, had (according to one study provided by the advertiser) no statistical effect after three days of use but had significant effects after two weeks of use,” the panel said.

“Taking the argument of the advertiser to a logical extreme, it could be said that the product provided instant relief once it had been applied over a two-week period. The panel did not find that a reasonable consumer would find such language reasonable.”

Each of the manufacturers has been asked to stop using the advertisements.


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