WASHINGTON, D.C. – So FDA issues a warning today about Novartis Consumer Health’s Maalox. We’ll print it verbatim:
Choosing the wrong liquid Maalox product for your condition can have harmful consequences, warns the Food and Drug Administration. Consumers may be confused by the similar packaging and labeling of liquid Maalox and Maalox Total Relief.
- Maalox (Advanced Regular Strength and Advanced Maximum Strength) contains the active ingredients aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, and simethicone for the relief of acid indigestion, heartburn, sour stomach, upset stomach, and pressure and bloating (gas).
- Maalox Total Relief (Maximum Strength) has only one active ingredient—bismuth subsalicylate—for the relief of diarrhea, upset stomach associated with nausea, heartburn, and gas due to overeating.
If we were making Maalox, we would be a bit nervous. These days, the FDA isn’t messing around with anything. All regulatory agencies are BUSY BUSY. And a few consumer complaints can trigger all sorts of things happening in Washington that cost your brand market share.
Companies have got to keep these brand extensions to a minimum, so consumers aren’t confused.
The same problem came up in a recent USA Today story about store shelves at Walmart that my friend Catesby forwarded today.
Private labels are taking over, and squeezing out big national brands. In this situation, we don’t blame the retailers. While some retailers have too few products on the shelves, in many cases national brands have so extended their brands that they have confused consumers.
The USA Today piece quoted Lora Cecera, a retail expert and partner at strategy consulting firm Altimeter Group. “I think the feeling is that as these companies keep extending their [product] lines, it’s only causing confusion for shoppers and not really driving them to buy more products.” As a consumer, she asked, “Do I really need to decide between 15 different types of toothpaste when I go to a store?”
Pain in the ass. Or the stomach. Or I guess whichever Maalox you like.