Merck joins a growing number of companies that are resubmitting health claims that may have been rejected in the general function, article 13.1 component of the EU nutrition and health claim regulation (NHCR).
Many of these claims were submitted by member state agencies three or four years ago, leading companies to believe the progress of science, coupled with the learnings from about 3000 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) health claim opinions and guidance documents, will see fresh submissions win positive verdicts.
Merck Consumer Healthcare was unavailable for further comment on the new dossier’s contents and construction at the time of publication.
The application comes in the same year the UK advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), in February censored a marketing campaign for Seven Seas JointCare range for overstating the benefits of the products.
Merck Consumer Healthcare markets a number of food supplements under different brands including Seven Seas based in the UK, and Merck Médication Familiale based in France.
The UK rejection stunned Seven Seas which had for several years been making similar claims and which it believed closely followed a glucosamine-joint health claim approved in 2004 by a division of the ASA.
Despite using wording very close to the approved claims, the ASA said Seven Seas’ claims had “gone too far” because benefitting normal joints implied a future benefit, and went beyond “the smooth working of joints” assertion that was approved.
That rejection followed EFSA's health claims panel, the NDA, also opining in a 2009 article 13.1 general function opinion that glucosamine did not benefit the normal function of joints, either alone or in conjunction with typical food supplement stable mate, chondroitin.
That opinion is set to become European law in the first quarter of 2012, and may itself affect the approved UK claim.
The ASA’s Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP)-approved claim for glucosamine states: “Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body where it plays a role in the smooth working of the joints and helps maintain connective tissues.”
“CAP’s long standing position is that marketers should not claim that products containing glucosamine can help maintain healthy joints, aid joint mobility or treat arthritis and/or osteoarthritis,” CAP said.
At the time Seven Seas stated: “We strongly maintain that the advert in question was not misleading and refute the ASA’s belief that that advert implies a joint health improvement. In order to provide consumers with absolute clarity, we specifically included information on glucosamine that is expressly permitted within the CAP list of ingredient claims.”
Seven Seas products are sold in the UK, Europe, south east Asia and latin America.