Johns Hopkins Medicine has backed away from endorsing a skin-care line. Following criticism that the relationship verged on a product endorsement, the leading medical research institution issued a statement declining an equity stake in Klinger Advanced Aesthetics—a unit of the publicly-traded company John Hopkins consulted on the design and information analysis of tests performed on Klinger's CosmedicineTM products—launched in Sephora stores in February.

The controversy over Hopkins' role in creating and selling a commercial beauty product came to light last week when The Wall Street Journal reported on the details of the relationship, including Klinger's plans to give Johns Hopkins equity in the company. Just days after the article, William R. Brody, president of The Johns Hopkins University, and Edward D. Miller, dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, issued a statement saying 'KAA and the stores that distribute its products have agreed to withdraw all references to JHM except for certain limited information - on product packages and in previously printed promotional material - that disclose JHM's consulting role.'

"Johns Hopkins did not and does not endorse the company's products," stressed Brody and Miller in the statement. "We have informed Klinger Advanced Aesthetics that Johns Hopkins Medicine will not take an equity stake in KAA that had been envisioned as partial compensation for its consulting services. Standard fees for consulting on health-related matters will continue." The institution has also declined a seat on KAA's board of directors. They said Klinger and Sephora have agreed to withdraw all references to Johns Hopkins Medicine 'except for certain limited information -- on product packages and in previously printed promotional material -- that disclose Johns Hopkins' consulting role.'

Sephora's displays and other promotional material called Cosmedicine it "the only skin-care line tested in consultation with Johns Hopkins Medicine,' The executive committee of the Johns Hopkins Medicine board of trustees gave Klinger final approval for use of the Johns Hopkins name on the products in January. Klinger confirmed it has agreed to changes in Cosmedicine's promotional materials, and has removed any reference to Johns Hopkins from the web site.

The Johns Hopkins experts didn't test the Cosmedicine products, but did design the tests and evaluated the results. The Wall Street Journal reported that Johns Hopkins also will work with Klinger to develop clinical 'best practices' for the company's chain of spa-clinics. Klinger (formerly Georgette Klinger spas) has 12 medical spas in major U.S. cities, and is rolling out new ones this year. The clinics offer salon treatments and 'light medical' services, such as Botox and Restylane shots. Johns Hopkins also has designed an 11-week training course for nurse practitioners at the spas.