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

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

When you see these claims - maximum strength and clinical strength- on the side of a package, they likely give the impression that the product you are looking at means business. Read more...
 

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maximum strength and clinical strength

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Video: Techei

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 and clinical strength

 

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 refer 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

​Anti-Perspirant

​Aluminum

Chloride

15%

20% (*Available as Rx)



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.

​Numbing agent, Topical analgesic

​Lidocaine

​4%

​5% (*Available as Rx)

​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 the 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 antiperspirant brands. The challenge is comparing the strengths of active ingredients as these claims often reference ingredients that are not considered a 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

​Hormonal

topical

​None Listed

None Listed

​Unclear given lack of active ingredients listed



​Anti-

Perspirant

​Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly

20%

Aluminum chloride is considered the Rx option not


Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly

​Anti-

Perspirant

​Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly

​20%

​Aluminum chloride is considered the Rx option not


Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly

​Dandruff shampoo

​Selenium Sulfide

​1%

​2.25%


(*Available as Rx)



What is the bottom line?


The bottom line when it comes to claims about the 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.



maximum and clinical strength

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