The UK ad watchdog is investigating a TV ad for painkiller Nurofen Express to assess whether it is misleading because it claims to specifically target muscles in the head.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigation, which we first heard about on The Guardian, was triggered by 12 complaints from viewers.
News of it comes in the same week that Australia’s federal court ruled Nurofen-maker Reckitt Benckiser misled consumers for selling pills that were twice the price of standard ibuprofen but had the same effectiveness.
In the Australian case, the court found that Nurofen tricked consumers into thinking Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain, and Nurofen Tension Headache targeted specific types of pain, when in none were more or less effective at treating any of the symptoms.
Commenting on the Australian ruling, Dr Aomesh Bhatt, Reckitt Benckiser’s medical affairs director, told The Guardian: “The Nurofen specific-pain range was launched with an intention to help consumers navigate their pain relief options, particularly within the grocery environment where there is no healthcare professional to assist decision making.”
The Australian ruling, which has forced the products off the shelves for three months, will not affect Nurofen’s packaging in other countries. Bhatt did not comment on the ASA investigation.
The ASA investigation does not concern the company’s packaging. The products are regulated by health regulators such as the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
However, the ASA will be assessing whether Nurofen’s TV ads should continue to broadcast.
An ASA spokesman told Business Insider:
Complainants have challenged whether the ad is misleading because it implies that the product directly targets muscles in the head. They have also challenged whether the claim “gives you faster headache relief than standard paracetamol or ibuprofen” is misleading.
We received the complaints in February and launched an investigation in March. This is a complex case and our investigation is ongoing. The advertiser is providing evidence to substantiate its claims, we’re carefully assessing that and we’ll publish our findings in due course.
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