Nurofen manufacturer accused of 'misleading' packaging

A consumer watchdog has launched legal action against pharmaceutical giant Reckitt Benckiser Australia

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Nurofen has been accused of using 'misleading' packaging over its 'specific pain' products.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched legal action against pharmaceutical giant Reckitt Benckiser Australia for the marketing of its Nurofen Specific Pain Product range.

The products at the centre of the dispute are Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache.

The consumer watchdog has alleged that making each product look like it treats a particular type of pain is false or misleading - because the tablets inside are identical.

The drugs, which are sometimes sold for different prices, contain the same active ingredient – ibuprofen lysine 342mg.

The ACCC is seeking "penalties and costs" from the UK-based pharmaceutical company, in addition to the "publication of corrective notices".

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ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said that the watchdog takes claims about the efficacy of health and medical products "very seriously". 

He said that all four Nurofen products were listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods as being suitable for treating a wide variety of pain types.

“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,” he 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."

But Reckitt Benckiser Australia said in a statement that it disputed any allegations that it had breached consumer law.

"We are continuing to work with regulators in Australia to ensure its packaging continues to be fully aligned with all guidelines and requirements," it said.

"It is important to note that the ACCC’s concerns relate to Australia only and are not applicable to other countries/regions including the UK and as such all Nurofen products remain available and there will be no changes to packaging."

It added: "Nurofen pain-specific products provide easier navigation of pain-relief options in countries which offer a self-selection environment for consumers."

The matter is listed for March 31 in the Federal Court in Sydney.