Reckitt Benckiser will be reaching for the Nurofen today after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it was launching court action against the Australian arm of the multinational giant over the marketing of its “specific pain” Nurofen products.
The ACCC alleges the painkillers contain “false or misleading claims” because they suggests each one is formulated to treat specific kinds of pain when the products are identical. The range claims to specifically treat back pain, period pain, migraines, and tension headaches.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said his organisation takes false or misleading claims about the efficacy of health and medical products “very seriously”.
The consumer watchdog also takes its time.
Fans of the ABC consumer affairs show The Checkout, by members of The Chaser comedy team, might remember the show covered the issue in April 2013 – nearly two years ago.
As Julian Morrow pointed out during The Checkout segment, each product offering “targeted relief” contains exactly the same amount of the active ingredient, ibuprofen. The ACCC makes the same point.
“The only difference between any of these is the price,” Morrow said, going on to explain that consumers using the “targeted”product paid 70% more “for exactly the same results”.
Watch the clip here:
The Nurofen specific pain range was also given a “Shonky” Award by Choice back in 2010, so more than four years have passed between the consumer advocacy group flagging the issue and the ACCC acting.
Last year Choice examined painkillers and found both Panadol and the Coles generic brands made similar targeted pain relief claims.
Rod Simms says truth in advertising and consumer issues in the health and medical sectors are ACCC enforcement priorities in 2015.
The matter is listed for March 31 in the Federal Court in Sydney. The ACCC wants penalties, injunctions and corrective notices.
Business Insider asked The Checkout’s Craig Reucassel to comment on new that the consumer watchdog had taken action.
“It may take a while, but when the ACCC persists, see a lawyer,” he said.
The Checkout returns to ABC TV in April.
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