$6 million fine for misleading Nurofen painkiller packaging

The Nurofen products misled consumers into believing that each product was suited to different types of pain, despite containing the same drug.

Personal care product manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser has been slammed with a $6 million fine for using misleading packaging for their Nurofen ‘Specific Pain’ range.

The Federal Court handed down a $1.7 million fine earlier this year, however it was increased on appeal by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

In the appeal, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it was “disappointing a fine of $1.7 million was imposed for a company this size”.

“It is not really going to catch people’s attention and send the deterrence message we need,” he said.

The original case brought against Reckitt Benckiser held that the ‘Specific Pain’ painkiller range (which claimed to target pain in specific areas of the body) contained the same active ingredient, the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen, and that each type of pill did the same thing.

Today Reckitt Benckiser’s Nurofen division acknowledged the decision delivered by the Full Court of Federal Court, but said it was considering its legal position.

“Nurofen is disappointed by this decision, as it considers that the original penalty of the Federal Court in April was appropriate in all of the circumstances,” a spokesperson said.

The company pointed out that there are different formulations of ibuprofen that are manufactured in different ways.

“The Specific-Pain Range contains ibuprofen lysine – a unique formulation in the Nurofen range that is absorbed faster than the regular ibuprofen contained in standard Nurofen,” the spokesperson said.

“All Nurofen products, which have the same active ingredient, pack-size, format and formulation, have the same manufacturer’s recommended retail price.

“In 2015, Nurofen accepted that the representations made on the Nurofen Specific Pain Range webpage and packaging may have misled consumers, and at that time Nurofen consented to the Court orders.”

The spokesperson said that Nurofen did not intend to mislead consumers, and that the company recognized it “could have done more to assist our consumers in navigating the Nurofen Specific Pain Range”.

“That is, to show that each of the products in the range is equally effective for the other pains indicated on the Nurofen Specific Pain Range packaging.”

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