Most Americans don't check ingredients of over-the-counter cold sore medicines and select products based on their packaging, according to a survey by Abreva.


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Abreva: Cold sore remedy packaging can be deceiving

June 19th, 2012

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Most Americans don't check ingredients of over-the-counter cold sore medicines and select products based on their packaging, according to a survey by Abreva.

The GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare cold sore treatment brand said Tuesday that its poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 66% believe that when "look-alike treatments" have the same or similar medication packaging as the name-brand treatment, it's likely that they have the same ingredients. Thirty-four percent think look-alike medicines aren't likely to have the same ingredients as their branded counterparts.

What's more, 93% of Americans admit to buying the look-alike treatments in the past solely because those OTC cold sore medicines cost less, the Abreva survey revealed.

"All of these 'look-alike' cold sore treatments have different ingredients from the Abreva brand they are trying to imitate," explained GSK spokeswoman Pam Marquess, a pharmacist and pharmacy chain owner. "Even though two items on the shelf may have claims and packaging similar to Abreva, the inside is a different story. Comparing ingredients is critical to selecting a proper cold sore treatment."

GSK noted that Abreva, which contains 10% docosanol, is the only OTC product approved by the Food and Drug Administration to speed the healing of cold sores. The company noted that several look-alike cold sore treatments tout healing claims but instead contain the ingredient benzalkonium chloride.

Recently, the FDA issued a warning letter to a marketer and distributor of a product containing benzalkonium chloride that is making the claim on its product's label that it heals cold sores, according to GSK. The company said the FDA found that benzalkonium chloride isn't indicated as a cold sore treatment and that marketer may not make cold sore healing claims because there's no scientific evidence to support that.

"Without comparing labels and ingredients, you may think the look-alike treatment will heal your cold sore just like Abreva. But benzalkonium chloride does not heal cold sores," stated Marquess.

Abreva is urging consumers to check with their pharmacist if they are uncertain about packaging information when shopping for a cold sore remedy.

"Hopefully, the findings of this survey will compel people looking for a cold sore healing treatment to compare the ingredients between Abreva and look-alike products for their own protection," commented Lisa Maxwell-Anekwe, senior brand manager for Abreva.

"If you're in doubt about what cold sore treatment to look for, ask your pharmacist if both Abreva and look-alike products have the same active ingredients," she noted. "This will allow you to make an educated purchasing decision based on facts and not packaging or cost."

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