Nurofen’s maker admits misleading consumers over contents of painkillers

The drug giant Reckitt Benckiser was ordered on Monday to pull some of its popular Nurofen painkiller brands off shelves in Australia after a court ruled it had made misleading claims The Guardian are reporting.

The company has admitted to selling identical products that were marketed to treat specific types of pain, and for almost double the price of its standard painkiller.

The Australian federal court has ruled that the multinational misled consumers after Nurofen’s varieties for back pain, period pain, migraine pain and tension headaches were all found to contain the same active ingredient, 342 milligrams of ibuprofen lysine.

The court ordered that Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache be removed from retail shelves within three months.

The consumer watchdog launched the court action against the UK-based pharmaceutical company earlier this year.

The chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, said the price of Nurofen’s targeted pain relief range was significantly higher than that of other comparable products.

“The Nurofen specific pain products were being sold at retail prices almost double that of Nurofen’s standard ibuprofen products and the general pain relief products of its competitors,” Sims said.

He said any representations which were difficult for a consumer to test would now face greater scrutiny from the ACCC.

“The ACCC took these proceedings because it was concerned that consumers may have purchased these products in the belief that they specifically treated a certain type of pain, based on the representations on the packaging, when this was not the case,” Sims said.

“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.”

The company was also ordered to publish website and newspaper articles to clarify its status, implement a consumer protection compliance program and pay the ACCC’s costs.

“Nurofen did not set out to mislead consumers,” a Nurofen spokeswoman, Montse Pena, said in a statement on Monday.

“Nurofen has cooperated with the ACCC in relation to these proceedings and will fully comply with the court order made today.”

In Australia, Reckitt Benckiser markets and supplies a range of consumer health and household brands, including Nurofen, Mortein, Clearasil, Finish, Airwick and Gaviscon.

A court hearing on a likely fine is yet to be scheduled.