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Put to the test: testing labs provide services to help marketers boost sales in a slow economy.

CLINICALLY PROVEN. It's a claim that can make or break a finished product, validating its worth in a sea of similar SKUs. Whether a platinum-infused $1,000 skin cream or $3 disinfecting air freshener, consumers want results from their household or personal care purchases--especially in a time where budgets may limit spending capabilities. Enter testing service providers.

"Companies, now more than ever, need to stay vibrant in the eyes of their customers," said David Hinden, president, Essex Testing Clinic, Inc., Verona, NJ. "Despite the economic times, new technologies are driving research. Companies are being more creative and innovative with their formulations so they do not lose their customer base or brand recognition. This means more testing needs to be done on these new developments."

Howard L. Kaminsky, director of operations, AMA Laboratories, Inc., New City, NY, agreed. "The major trend in the field of cosmetic testing is that products are better and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find points of superiority, actual or perceived by the consumer, since both are meaningful," he told HAPPI. "It is the job of a good testing facility to help identify these points of difference for clients and help them development such advantages in the marketplace."

Besides proving a product's safety and efficacy, some sites provide comparative scientific photography documenting the results of tests, which can be used in advertising and marketing strategies. Sephora even started a promotion where, with beauty purchases online, the company would ship laboratory samples to garner interest in upcoming releases.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

As well as operating at peak superiority, successful testing companies must know the ins and outs of their clientele.

"Wee need to be involved with the industry--go to seminars and trade shows, for example, so that we can be on top of the new methods and technologies," said Mr. Hinden. "This way, we can insure that we are in sync with industry standards and innovations while educating our clients."

At events like the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) Suppliers' Day or HBA Global Expo, it is not uncommon to see testing service booths among ingredients and packaging companies showcasing their wares at the show.

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Staying in step with the latest trends can, in turn, improve business practices between the laboratory and its clientele, noted Mr. Kaminsky of AMA. "The ability to understand the client's business, his products and the competitive nature of the marketplace is important. Because, it is this understanding that determines what the client needs to achieve in testing his or her products and what we can do to help them successfully achieve their desired results," he told HAPPI.

In-demand labs possess a strong service-oriented quality, as they need to be acutely aware of and in tune with their client's needs, noted Craig Weiss, president, Consumer Product Testing Company (CPTC), Fairfield, NJ. They also must be on top of industry standards, deeply knowledgeable about global regulations and on the cutting-edge of new testing technology.

"A successful testing service company naturally partners with their clients to ensure product safety and efficacy testing is both accurate and timely," he told HAPpI.

Flourishing testing companies listen to their customers and provide the services that meet their needs in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, said Cindy Lieberman, marketing vice president, Celsis Analytical Services, Chicago, IL. For example, some clients need all their testing done in cGMP facilities. Others save time or money by validating with alternate methods.

"Successful labs have the flexibility and expertise to help companies with method development and method transfer, can work around industry restraints such as the current acetonitrile shortage by offering effective alternatives, and enable clients to maximize their budget for quality work with fast turnaround," she added.

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Timely Issues

Testing laboratories all over the globe are striving to stay informed for the sake of their clientele as well as their staff members. In fact, matters that pertain to assorted household and personal care services weigh in from the U.S. to the UK and beyond.

"Clearly, 'recasting' of the EU Cosmetic Directive has had significant testing impact in both Europe and other global regions," said Mr. Weiss of CPTC. "Also based in Europe, the current and particularly potential testing impact of the REACH initiative could result in substantial redirection of various testing resources worldwide to support this program."

In the U.S., proposed changes to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) final sunscreen monograph and the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations will certainly change testing domestically and have worldwide effect, added Mr. Weiss.

On a state level, the California Safe Cosmetics Act could set a precedent with other states, which could potentially follow this lead and require additional product testing.

"Of course, the bottom line trend the consumer will see is that prices on the shelves will continue rising to cover the increased testing and other costs to meet these regulations," noted Mr. Weiss.

Due to economic pressures, companies are increasingly looking at their contract labs as strategic partners," added Ms. Lieberman. She said, "Working together, your lab can help you identify what should--or shouldn't--be outsourced based on core competencies, staff expertise, test frequency and the cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment."

A Workload Assessment Model, such as the one Celsis uses with its clients, can help companies make more informed decisions about outsourcing, for example.

There are several areas of interest still prevailing in the industry---especially in the area of claim substantiation as it relates to anti-aging and skin refinement, according to Michael J. Muscatiello, Ph.D., chairman and chief operating officer, Clinical Research Laboratories, Inc., Piscataway, NJ.

"With anti-aging ingredients, the focus is on advancing antioxidant properties, compatibility with other active ingredients and natural components," he said.

"Key research and development areas are enhancement of stability of such ingredients, while preventing them from contamination and increasing their efficiency. These points pose challenges to the contract laboratory in areas of method development and cogent experimental design."

Around the Corner

From a testing perspective, as today's highly regulated household and personal care market continues to become even more regulated worldwide, significantly greater testing will be needed in 2010 and beyond.

"While ingredient and formulation safety-related testing may dominate in upcoming years, there will concurrently be a trend toward improved quantification of various claims particularly in the cosmetics segment," said Mr. Weiss of CPTC. "Both bioinstrumentation and contract testing firms will be called upon to continually develop novel techniques and methods to improve claim substantiation particularly as new natural-based materials are introduced and nutraceutical/cosmeceutical claims are generated."

According to Mr. Kaminsky of AMA Laboratories, the increase in the number of facilities having International Standards Organization (ISO) Certification and the application of these standards to the testing processes offered by these labs is going to be a rising trend for 2010. AMA is already ISO 9001-2008 certified, added Mr. Kaminsky.

ISO 9001-2008 specifies requirements for a management system where an organization needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements; as well as aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, said the ISO website.

Europe's recent ban on the sale of cosmetics tested on animals has spurred interest in alternative in vitro testing, said Ms. Lieberman.

She told HAPPI, "We are continuing to expand our testing portfolio of innovative and effective assays that do not rely on live animal (in vivo) testing. The U.S. Dept of Transportation now accepts the Corrositex assay for corrosion testing, and the Bacterial Endotoxins Test replaces many instances of the rabbit pyrogen test.

"An alternative to the Draize test, both ocular and dermal irritation levels can be measured objectively using the Irritection Assay System" Ms. Lieberman added.

Available through Celsis Analytical Services, the Irritection assay is "an excellent, repeatable and lower-cost alternative for product testing."

All in all, a possible economic turnaround and the spike of new business will truly put the industry's testing service locales to the test.

For a directory of testing service providers, see p. 55.

Melissa Meisel

Associate Editor

NAD Questions Validity of Test Methods for Eye Product

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IN CLAIMING A PRODUCT'S efficacy, the methodology behind the study is imperative---according to The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. In recent reports, the organization has recommended that University Medical Pharmaceuticals Corporation discontinue advertising claims for its over-the-counter skin care product, WrinkleFree Eyes.

NAD, the advertising industry's self-regulatory forum, examined print advertising for the product pursuant to NAD's ongoing monitoring of national advertising. Claims at issue in NAD's inquiry included:

* "Clinically proven to reduce wrinkle appearance up to 85% in only 20 minutes."

* "Results as good as Botox only faster."

* "Truly effective topical alternative to Botox."

* "This new technology works in only 20 minutes with results that last up to a week."

* "Originally developed to deliver medicine into the skin without needles, this breakthrough transdermal process gently works faster, deeper and with less irritation than ever before possible with topical treatments."

* "You'll see a dramatic smoothing effect around your eyes in only 20 short minutes that lasts up to a week."

In response to NAD's inquiry, University Medical noted that it had conducted an internal study on its own employees and friends, but did not provide the study or disclose the methodology. University Medical did provide to NAD the results of two studies, including one that tested the immediacy of results of the product used in conjunction with various concentrations of retinol and a second that required each subject to use the product on one side of her face. NAD noted that neither study tested the product as it is marketed and both had numerous methodological flaws. Following its review, NAD determined that the evidence in the record did not support the advertiser's performance and establishment claims and recommended they be discontinued.

It further noted that the evidence in the record did not include head-to-head testing between topically applied WrinkleFree Eyes and Botox, a product that is injected. NAD determined that the evidence in the record was insufficient to support the wrinkle-reduction claims and comparisons to Botox (including the before and after photographs) and at press time recommended that they all be discontinued.
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Author:Meisel, Melissa
Publication:Household & Personal Products Industry
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Oct 1, 2009
Words:1708
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