ACCC accuses Voltaren manufacturers of ‘misleading representations’ in marketing messages

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) watchdog has initiated legal proceedings against GSK and Novartis alleging the drug companies made “false or misleading representations” in the marketing of its Voltaren Osteo Gel and Voltaren Emulgel pain relief products.

The ACCC is alleging Novartis and GSK encouraged consumers to buy its Osteo Gel product, which is offered at a premium price, instead of Emulgel despite the products containing the same ingredients.

The drug companies allegedly encouraged consumers to buy Osteo Gel because it is specifically formulated for treating osteoarthritis conditions.

However, the two products, Osteo Gel and Emulgel, are formulated identically with the same ingredients.

Both products differentiate in price with Osteo Gel often being sold at a premium price.

According to the ACCC, Osteo Gel was 33% more expensive than Emulgel.

Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, said the ACCC alleges consumers are likely to have been mislead and encouraged to purchase Osteo Gel thinking it is different to Emulgel.

“In fact, the product has an identical formulation to Emulgel, and both products are equally effective in treating not only osteoarthritis, but also a range of other pain conditions.

“We allege GSK and Novartis engaged in a deliberate commercial strategy to differentiate the products in a way that was likely to mislead consumers.

“The alleged conduct is particularly concerning, given the significant penalties handed down by the court against the makers of Nurofen for what we consider to be similar conduct,” Sims concluded.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing