The Commerce Commission has issued a warning to Endeavour Consumer Health Limited (Endeavour) over its use of the term “Pharmacy Strength” in marketing its 'Red Seal Pharmacy Strength' range of nutritional supplements.

The Red Seal Pharmacy Strength range is sold in supermarkets and the “Pharmacy Strength” term is prominent in product labelling and promotional material.

The Commission accepted that the Pharmacy Strength range is generally of a higher potency and/or complexity than the standard Red Seal supplement range. However, none of the products in the range contains sufficient quantities of any regulated substance to warrant a pharmacy-only designation.

“The Commission believes that the term ‘Pharmacy Strength’ is likely to mislead reasonable consumers about the potency or effectiveness of these products, or to draw unsound comparisons between them and competing products,” said Commissioner Anna Rawlings.

The Commission considers that use of the term is likely to breach various sections of the Fair Trading Act 1986 relating to conduct that is likely to mislead and making false and/or misleading representations.

“We are concerned that use of the ‘Pharmacy Strength’ term is not merely confusing, but that it may indicate that the range is endorsed or approved for sale in pharmacies when it is not. Some consumers may also think the range is not usually available in supermarkets or outside pharmacies when this is not the case. These representations can, in turn, create misleading consumer impressions about the effectiveness or value of the treatment," she said.

Endeavour has agreed to change the way it markets the Pharmacy Strength range and the Commission has finalised its investigation by issuing a warning letter.

“It’s important for traders to consider how their marketing claims will be perceived by reasonable consumers and to ensure that they can back up their marketing claims, particularly when consumers are not in a position to test them themselves. The Commission has just released a short video with advice on avoiding making false, misleading or unsubstantiated claims of this nature,” said Ms Rawlings.

While no further action will be taken against Endeavour at this time, the warning letter will be taken into account if the conduct resumes or if Endeavour engages in similar conduct in the future.