The manufacturer of Nurofen has been ordered to remove its targeted pain relief range from pharmacy and supermarket shelves following a Federal Court ruling that found consumers had been misled.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched court action against Reckitt Benckiser In March , alleging Nurofen was misleading consumers by selling a range of pain relief products targeting specific ailments for back pain, period pain, migraine pain and tension headaches, all of which contained the same active ingredient, ibuprofen lysine 342mg.
The Federal Court ordered the products be removed from pharmacy and supermarket shelves within three months and to amend the pack alerts to consumers, stating other painkillers are just as suitable.
Reckitt Benckiser was also ordered to publish website and newspaper articles clarifying the drugs are equally effective at treating other forms of pain, introduce a consumer protection compliance program, and pay the ACCC’s legal costs.
Reckitt Benckiser has been further criticised for price gouging with regard to specific Nurofen targeted treatments which were found to be sometimes double the cost of, and no different to, the company’s own ibuprofen products, and those of the competition.
While Reckitt Benckiser acknowledged its engagement in misleading conduct that contravened the Australian Consumer Law, the company denied misleading customers with its packaging and other marketing collateral.
Reckitt Benckiser spokesperson, Montse Pena, was quoted in a corporate statement citing “Nurofen’s targeted range was launched to help consumers work out their pain relief options, particularly within the grocery environment where there is no healthcare professional to assist decision making.”
ACCC Chair, Rod Sims warned of a future crackdown on companies deliberately misleading consumers with regard to health claims, with “trust in advertising and consumer issues in the health and medical sectors” as priority areas for the ACCC.