Nurofen ad pulled pending court battle

By Arvind Hickman | 22 December 2015

Reckitt Benckiser has suspended an advertising campaign for Nurofen while it fights a court battle against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) over claims made in ads the drug is superior to Panadol in treating tension-type headaches.

In a separate case from the recent court ruling on special pain, the pharmaceutical giant agreed to temporarily pull advertising in TV, print, point of sale and outdoor until further instruction from the court.

The campaign ads showed a graph that pits Nurofen against Panadol, with claims 'Nurofen is superior to paracetamol' in treating the common headache.

Reckitt Benckiser told AdNews it could not comment on the case, but confirmed it had been involved in an ongoing dispute with its rival over the Nurofen campaign.

AdNews has obtained details of an Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) panel hearing that outlines previous GSK grievances, which were dismissed by the panel and an arbiter.

In a December 2014 hearing, GSK told the ASMI panel Nurofen's superiority claim is based on a single 19-year-old study, Schachtel, and was not supported by a broader body of scientific evidence.

GSK offered another unpublished study, commissioned by Reckitt Benckiser and known as NL9701, that found there was little difference between the two drugs, but the panel dismissed it because it was not peer reviewed.

GSK's complaints that Nurofen Zavance was not faster acting than standard ibuprofen were also dismissed because GSK couldn't prove the body of scientific evidence, as accepted by the panel and arbiter, did not back Reckitt Benckiser's claims.

Recently, the company was order by the federal court to pull its Nurofen special pain range for misleading advertising, while it is also under a separate probe in the UK.

In the current case, federal court documents do not indicate the exact nature of GSK's claims and Reckitt Benckiser's withdrawal of advertising is not an admission of guilt.

The next federal court hearing is in February 2016.

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