ACCC to take Reckitt Benckiser to court

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 5 March 2015

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has pulled the trigger and will take Reckitt Benckiser to court, alleging it misled consumers about the effectiveness of its Nurofen product.

It will allege that Nurofen made false claims regarding its Nurofen Specific Pain Products, namely that they targeted specific types of pain, rather than being exactly the same product.

The products each contain the same active ingredient, ibuprofen lysine 342mg, which is approved for treating a wide variety of pain types.

The ACCC will allege the products are not effective in treating a specific type of pain as advertised.

“In this case, we allege that consumers have been misled into purchasing Nurofen Specific Pain Products under the belief that each product is specifically designed for and effective in treating a particular type of pain, when this is not the case,”ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“The retail price of the Nurofen Specific Pain Products is significantly above that of other comparable analgesic products that also act as general pain relievers.

“Recent price sampling conducted by the ACCC revealed that these products are being sold at retail prices around double that of Nurofen’s standard ibuprofen products and standard products of its competitors.”

The matter is listed for a case management conference in the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney on 31 March.

The ACCC will seek declarations, injunctions, an order for the publication of corrective notices, penalties and costs.

AdNews' resident watchdog, Watchdog, first took umbrage with the issue in November last year, with Reckitt confessing that the products would all essentially do the same job.

Update: Reckitt Benckiser has hit back at the allegations, but has signalled it would work with regulators on its packaging. Full statement below:

"Nurofen is aware of the ACCC's concerns in relation to the Nurofen pain-specific packaging.

Nurofen disputes any allegation of contravention of consumer law in relation to its pain-specific packaging. All Nurofen packs are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and comply with TGA’s regulatory guidelines. Nurofen pain-specific products provide easier navigation of pain-relief options in the grocery environment for consumers who are experiencing a particular type of pain.

Nurofen is committed to the quality use of medicines and promoting and protecting the health of Australians. As part of this commitment and responsibility, Nurofen works closely with all regulatory bodies to ensure high standards compliance to guidelines. Nurofen will continue to work with regulators to ensure its packaging continues to be fully aligned with all guidelines and requirements and still offer consumers with clear pain relief options for their pain type.

Nurofen products remain available for sale at all leading retailers."

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