INDIA – The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has ordered GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Asia to stop advertising its toothpaste brand Sensodyne in international markets that feature dentists practicing outside India endorsing the product within seven days.
The CCPA discovered that certain Sensodyne product advertisements broadcast on television, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter showed UK-based dentists recommending Sensodyne products.
Consequently, Sensodyne advertisements in India must be stopped within seven days of the order’s issuance.
“Therefore, advertisement of Sensodyne products in India which show endorsements by dentists practicing outside India qualify as ‘misleading advertisement’ in terms of Section 2 (28) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019,” the order stated.
Stating that the regulations governing dentists in India clearly bar endorsement of any product or drug publicly, the CCPA determined that GSK’s use of UK-based dentists to endorse their products “was an attempt to circumvent the law.”
According to the CCPA, GSK Consumer Healthcare cannot be allowed to circumvent Indian law and show foreign dentists to exploit consumer apprehension about tooth sensitivity.
Public endorsement of any product or drug is prohibited under Indian dental regulations. Dentists in India are not permitted to publicly endorse any drug or industry product under the Revised Dentists (Code of Ethics) Regulations 2014.
The CCPA also ordered an investigation into the company’s claims for its Sensodyne brand.
Claims such as, “recommended by dentists worldwide,” “world’s No. 1 sensitivity toothpaste,” and “clinically proven relief, works in 60 seconds” will be investigated by the CCPA’s Director General (Investigation), and a report must be submitted within 15 days.
It also asked the company to submit documents supporting these claims within the stipulated time period.
The CCPA stated that it initiated a suo moto action against Sensodyne product advertisements in India that featured foreign doctors, and that a show cause notice was sent to the company in March of last year.
In response, GSK Consumer Healthcare said in a statement: “We confirm the receipt of the order from the CCPA. While we are looking into it in detail, we would like to clarify that our marketing initiatives are compliant with the applicable laws and industry guidelines. We are a responsible and compliant company which is committed to the welfare of its consumers.”
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