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Thompson Medical Company, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
791 F.2d 189 (1987)


Thompson Medical Company, Inc. (Thompson) (defendant) sold a pain reliever cream called Aspercreme. Aspercreme was marketed to relieve arthritic pain. Thompson’s advertising featured references to aspirin. According to Thompson’s advertising, Aspercreme provided the “strong relief of aspirin” and “concentrate[d] the relief of aspirin.” Aspercreme did not contain aspirin, but rather contained a chemical variant of aspirin called trolamine salicylate. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (plaintiff) filed a complaint against Thompson, arguing that Thompson had no scientific basis for Aspercreme’s efficacy and that Aspercreme did not contain aspirin. The FTC argued that Thompson misleadingly represented Aspercreme to contain a more effective version of aspirin. The administrative-law judge found Thompson liable, and the full commission affirmed that result. The FTC entered a final order, prohibiting Thompson from representing that Aspercreme was as effective or more effective than any other product, unless the claim was supported by two adequate and well-controlled scientific studies. Thompson petitioned for review of the FTC’s final order, arguing that two studies should not be necessary to Thompson’s representation that Aspercreme is an effective reliever of arthritic pain.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Mikva, J.)

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