Watchdog raps allergy claims advertPiriton advert didn't back up its claims

20 December 2006

An advert for Piriton is criticised for failing to back up claims about the number of allergy sufferers in Britain.

It listed the number of people allergic to substances such as sweat, leather and squirrel fur.

The magazine advert breached the advertising code because GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which makes Piriton Allergy Tablets, could not back up the figures, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found.

The ad said: 'Although pollen is Britain's most common allergen, you may not be aware that around 103,000 people are allergic to leather, 644,000 to house flies and 181,000 to squirrel fur.’

Sweat allergy

A doctor challenged the claims, saying they were based on a survey of people who could have diagnosed themselves.

He also questioned the advert's claim that 774,000 Britons were allergic to sweat.

After an investigation, the ASA said the advert had not been backed up by diagnoses from doctors.

‘We concluded that GSK had not substantiated the accuracy of the claimed number of people allergic to each substance.’

Code breach

It found the advert in breach of the industry code's clauses relating to truthfulness and substantiation.

The ASA told GSK to make sure it had ‘suitable evidence’ to back up claims in future adverts.

GSK said its advert had made clear the figures were extrapolated from a consumer survey and had not implied the diagnoses were made by doctors.