ACCC claims Nurofen fine an ‘inadequate deterrent’, appeals decision

Despite court orders interim packaging allows Nurofen to highlight specific pain relief

The consumer watchdog has called a $1.7m fine against Reckitt Benckiser as inadequate after the company was found to be using false and misleading marketing on products claiming to target specific pain.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will seek to appeal the Federal Court decision handed down last year after it challenged the truthfulness of pain relieving medications that claim to be able to target specific pain, such as migraines, back pain, period pain and tension headache.

The court found all four pain relievers contained the same active ingredient and could not target pain specifically or any differently from each other.

Reckitt Benckiser was fined $1.7m and ordered to change the labelling.

Interim labelling agreed to by the ACCC saw Nurofen allowed to continue to sell its product under pain-specific labels but with the bold-print addition “Equally effective for tension headache, period pain, back pain & general pain”.

The labels also state: “fast targeted relief from pain”.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the size of the fine was out of step with the profits Reckitt Benckiser had made from selling the the misleading pain killers and that the ACCC had sought a penalty of at least $6m.

“The ACCC will submit to the Full Court of the Federal Court that $1.7 million in penalties imposed on a company the size of Reckitt Benckiser does not act as an adequate deterrent and might be viewed as simply a cost of doing business,” Sims said.

“This is particularly the case when the judge found that Reckitt Benckiser had made many millions in profits from sales of 5.9 million units of these products at around 8,500 outlets during the relevant period.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



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