An Australian court today ordered Reckitt Benckiser to pull a number of Nurofen pain relief products from the market, saying the UK firm had misled consumers by marketing identical products for different types of pain.
According to the The Federal Court's ruling, Nurofen Back Pain, Period Pain, Migraine Pain and Tension Headache products were identical and the company had "engaged in misleading conduct" by labeling them for different ailments.
"We have known for years that they are all the same," a pharmacist told Reuters. "We have been advising our customers to go for the standard painkiller which is cheaper."
Three pharmacies in Sydney reported Nurofen's specific pain relief products were retailing at almost double the price of Nurofen's standard painkiller.
Supermarket websites in New Zealand and the United Kingdom reported that Australia appeared to be the first country to move against Nurofen specific pain relief products, which are also sold in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which launched the court action, said today that Reckitt Benckiser had three months to remove the Nurofen specific pain products from Australian shelves.
"None of the four products is any more or less effective than the others in treating any of the particular symptoms," justice James Edelman wrote in his judgment
Reckitt Benckiser's Nurofen unit said it would comply with the order and replace the products with new packaging that clearly stated the drugs were equally effective at treating other forms of pain.
"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 health care professional to assist decision making," Nurofen spokeswoman Montse Pena said in a statement. "Nurofen did not set out to mislead consumers."
"Truth in advertising and consumer issues in the health and medical sectors are priority areas for the ACCC, to ensure that consumers are given accurate information when making their purchasing decisions," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. "Any representations which are difficult for a consumer to test will face greater scrutiny from the ACCC."