Product Claims : ‘Maximum Strength’ vs ‘Clinical Strength’

maximum strength clinical strength

September 07, 2020

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Maximum Strength... Clinical Strength...

When you see these claims on the side of a package, they likely give the impression that the product you are looking at means business.  The implication is that if this product cannot fix your problem then it's hard to say what else could!  At the very least, the implication is that if this product does not work you likely have to finally make time to see your doctor.





What actually do these terms mean?  Do you know the difference?


It may be surprising to compare the meanings of these terms and to see how these terms are used on packaging.




Maximum Strength


Maximum strength refers to products that provide a higher concentration of the active ingredient than the regular strengths. However, this is not necessarily referring to buying the highest strength available.  This can be really misleading for people looking to get more effectiveness from higher strengths of active ingredients.  After trying a "maximum strength” without a response, there can be an assumption that if that didn’t work what will! 
 
The best way to see if this is true is to compare some real world examples.




Here is a chart we have compiled of products that claim "Maximum Strength".
 Product Type of Product Active Ingredient Concentration / % Highest Strength Available

SweatBlock Maximum Strength Antiperspirant Sweat Wipes

Anti-Perspirant

Aluminum 

Chloride 

15% 20% (*Available as Rx)

Acnefree Maximum Strength Terminator

Acne Spot Treatment

Benzoyl Peroxide

10% This is the highest strength of Benzoyl Peroxide but this is not necessarily the most potent ingredient to fight acne.

Aspercreme with Lidocaine Maximum Strength Pain Relief Cream

Numbing agent, Topical analgesic

Lidocaine 

4%
5% (*Available as Rx)

Cortizone Maximum Strength Ointment

Anti-inflammatory

Hydro-cortisone

1% 2.5% 
(*Available as Rx)










Clinical Strength


Clinical strength  implies that the product tends to take maximum strength to the highest concentration of active ingredient possible. However, this is still likely going to fall short of prescription strength.  Interestingly, in reviewing brand usage of these claims, it is unlikely for a brand to use both claims from our analysis. 

'Clinical strength' is a claim often used by anti-perspirant brands.  The challenge is comparing strengths of active ingredients as these claims often reference ingredients that are not considered prescription.

'Clinical strength' was also found among many anti-aging preparations.  These ingredients, again, would simply not fall under a prescription strength category to compare.
 
Here is a chart we have compiled of products that claim "Clinical Strength".


Product
Type of Product
Active Ingredient
 Concentration / % Highest Strength Available

Allvia - Progensa 20 Cream - Progesterone Cream, Liposome Technology, Clinical Strength

Hormonal topical None Listed None Listed Unclear given lack of active ingredients listed

Secret Clinical Strength Soft Solid Antiperspirant and Deodorant

Anti-Perspirant
Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly
20% Aluminum chloride is considered the Rx option not
Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly

Dove Clinical Protection Antiperspirant Deodorant

Anti-Perspirant
Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly
20%
Aluminum chloride is considered the Rx option not
Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly

Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Shampoo

Dandruff shampoo Selenium Sulfide 1%
2.25% 
(*Available as Rx)


What is the bottom line?

The bottom line when it comes to claims about strength of over the counter products is that at best these are potentially the strongest products available- over the counter. If after use of one of these products the problem you are attempting to address still exists, then it is time to see your doctor to discuss other options.  
 







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