GSK and Novartis fined $4.5 million over marketing of Voltaren

The makers of Voltaren have been ordered to pay $4.5 million for breaches of Australian Consumer Law.

Last year, global health giants Novartis Consumer Health and Glaxo Smith Kline Consumer Healthcare (GSK) admitted to the Federal Court they had made false or misleading representations in the marketing of the Voltaren Osteo Gel and Voltaren Emulgel pain relief products.

The offending Voltaren products

From January 2012 to March 2017 the pharmaceutical companies marketed Osteo Gel as being specifically formulated and more effective than Emugel in treating osteoarthritis-related pain and inflammation, even though both had the same active ingredients.

Osteo Gel was often sold at a higher price than Emulgel, with the products displayed side-by-side in stores.

Australian Competition and Competition Commission (ACCC) commissioner Sarah Court said the two products were essentially the same with equal effectiveness – making the marketing claims unacceptable.

“Novartis and GSK’s claims were particularly concerning because they set recommended retail prices for Osteo Gel above that of Emulgel, by up to 16%, and consumers were potentially misled into paying more for an identical product believing it was more effective,” Court said.

GSK acquired Novartis’ portfolio of Voltaren products in March 2016. The ACCC commenced proceedings against GSK and Novartis in December 2017.

GSK stopped supplying Osteo Gel to retailers in May 2018, however today the Federal Court ruled the penalty would be $4.5 million.


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