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In re Pfizer, Inc.

Federal Trade Commission
81 F.T.C. 23 (1972)


Pfizer, Inc. (defendant) sold a product called Un-Burn. In advertisements, Pfizer claimed that Un-Burn eliminated pain from sunburned skin. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (plaintiff) filed a complaint, arguing that Pfizer’s advertisements constituted unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of § 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act). The FTC argued that Pfizer lacked a scientific basis to substantiate the advertisements’ claims about Un-Burn. The FTC argued that Pfizer’s advertisements misleadingly implied that the claims were supported by scientific studies or tests prior to the claims’ being made. Pfizer argued that the performance claims were substantiated in three ways. First, Pfizer’s medical analysts assured the marketing director that the claims were consistent with how topical anesthetics like Un-Burn worked. Second, the marketing director reviewed all available medical literature on the active ingredients. Lastly, the marketing director checked Pfizer’s advertising against competitive advertising of products with the same active ingredients. Prior to the case’s resolution, Pfizer discontinued the advertisements in question. The FTC entered an order against Pfizer, and Pfizer sought review by the full commission.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kirkpatrick, C.)

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