The Warner Lambert Company has manufactured and distributed Listerine antiseptic mouthwash since 1879. Its formula has never changed. Since Listerine’s introduction, the company has represented the product as being beneficial in preventing and curing colds and sore throats. Direct advertising of these claims to consumers began in 1921. Warner Lambert spent millions of dollars annually advertising these claims in print media and in television commercials.
After 100 years of Warner Lambert’s making such claims, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against the company, alleging that it had engaged in false advertising, in violation of federal law. Four months of hearings were held before an administrative law judge that produced an evidentiary record of more than 4,000 pages of documents from 46 witnesses. After examining the evidence, the FTC issued an opinion which held that the company’s representations that Listerine prevented and cured colds and sore throats were false. The U. S. court of appeals affirmed. Is Warner Lambert guilty of fraud? If so, what remedies should the court impose on the company? Has Warner Lambert acted ethically in making its claims for Listerine? Warner Lambert Company v. Federal Trade Commission, 562 F. 2d 749, 1977 U. S. App. Lexis 11599 (United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit)

  • CreatedAugust 12, 2015
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