Gum Company Paid ADA For Study That Earned It Their Seal Of Approval

For the first time ever, the American Dental Association is putting its seal on some Wrigley’s chewing gum products—they’ll now say that the ADA considers them products that are “clinically proven to help prevent cavities, reduce plaque acid and strengthen teeth.” The ADA and some health professionals say that this is a perfectly acceptable application of the seal, because a full study was carried out that proved the products work. The only problem is, the study was privately funded and the gum companies partially paid for them.

Dr. Peter Lurie of Public Citizen says,

“What does the seal really mean? If it had been an FDA-style approval, we would know what studies had been done and we would be able to scrutinize them for ourselves. Because this study has been done privately, we have no way of knowing the clinical benefit.”

ABC News says that Wrigley paid $36,000 to include its Orbit, Extra, and Eclipse brands in the study, and that Wrigley “regularly spends $35,000 to $45,000 in exhibit booth space at the ADA’s annual meeting, advertising in its publications, and on other sponsorships.”

Despite the controversy (if this even counts as controversy in today’s market of privately-funded research), it’s widely accepted that the ADA’s tests are tough and comprehensive, and that sugar-free gum does promote dental health by stimulating saliva production.

“Dentists, Consumer Groups Debate ADA Seal on Gum” [ABC News]
(Image: Wrigley)

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  1. l0stn0tfound says:

    I’m pretty sure the ADA thought it was probably a BS study so they wouldn’t pay for it all…

  2. suburbancowboy says:

    Can we get an American Cancer Society seal of Disapproval on the product since the gum has artificial sweeteners in it?

  3. b612markt says:

    I used to work in the ADA building and was good friends with an ADA scientist (she actually tested toothpaste) so I can offer some insight.

    Every single toothpaste, mouthwash and other product that has the ADA seal on it is a result of a paid test. A company must pay the ADA for the lab time, scientific study etc… to determine whether the product is satisfactory. The ADA doesn’t go out looking for every toothpaste ever made to test it as soon as possible; companies come to the ADA and request a scientific analysis of the efficacy of their product.

    That said, the ADA already has the facilities to test toothpaste, mouthwash, etc… I highly doubt that their equipment was immediately adaptable to test chewing gum and Wrigley probably had to foot the bill for the new testing techniques and equipment. The ADA is a non-profit and can’t just go buy a new lab because someone wants to see if their gum is good or not.

    On Tuesday when I heard that Wrigley got an ADA approval I immediately thought of how much money they must have had to lay out to get the testing.

    I don’t find this controversial at all. If anyone does see controversy, please remember – EVERY ADA seal is paid for. A company pays for the test, even if their product fails and doesn’t get the seal.

    That being said, I think that’s the best 36K Wrigley could have spent – I’m certainly going to include their gums with my supply of Trident.

  4. craigpress says:

    As a researcher in the medical field I can also point out that the FDA does not pay for the clinical trials for drugs. They are done privately at hospitals and private clinics. It would simply be way to expensive for the FDA or NIH to pay for these clinical trials… most of which fail.

    While private funding is a conflict of interest, it is a necessary evil. We do need a full disclosure clause stating that any trial initiated has to have its results publicly available.

  5. dislodge112 says:

    any dentists out there care to read the report and tell us whether what they say makes sense?

    a few days ago i was getting my teeth cleaned and my dentist was telling me how having more saliva in your mouth without food kills bacteria because of the pH. On a very basic level it sounds like this is more or less what the study was saying.

    Seriously though… Wrigley’s is awesome, if there’s anything wrong with a pack you buy they’ll send you a new one without question. Plus it prevents me from vomiting when talking to people after they eat Doritos.

  6. BelBivDevolkswagen says:

    Good luck getting any private company to agree to the full disclosure of results clause – I negotiate these types of clinical trial agreements on a daily basis – publication and “use of name” clauses are two of the more hotly debated sections in any contract when dealing with private funding.