Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 9, 2005

Reality, or The Onion?

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:29 am

My brother sent me this, and pointed out that this story would work equally well as a wire service report, or as a story in The Onion. It is, in fact, from the Associated Press:

NEW YORK — An advertising campaign that says the mouthwash Listerine is as effective as floss at fighting tooth and gum decay is false and misleading and poses a public health risk because it can undermine the message of dental professionals, a judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said in a decision signed Thursday and made public Friday that he will order Pfizer, the maker of Listerine, to stop the advertising campaign.

“Dentists and hygienists have been telling their patients for decades to floss daily,” Chin wrote. “They have been doing so for good reason. The benefits of flossing are real — they are not a `myth.’ Pfizer’s implicit message that Listerine can replace floss is false and misleading.”

Pfizer in print ads had featured a Listerine bottle balanced equally on a scale opposite a floss container with the words: “Listerine antiseptic is clinically proven to be as effective as floss at reducing plaque and gingivitis between the teeth.”

I guess letting consumers evaluate the different claims and decide for themselves what to do is not the sort of thing ths judge is willing to contemplate — never mind the First Amendment rights of the Pfizer to tout research favorable to its products.

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