GSK wins ‘misleading’ advertising case against Reckitt Benckiser’s Nurofen campaign

Pharmaceutical giant Reckitt Benckiser has received another setback in the courts after being found guilty of misleading advertising of Nurofen in a civil case brought by competitor GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Panadol.

The latest ruling, handed down earlier this month, follows the company being fined $6 million last year for misleading consumers over different pain relief products and being ordered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to withdraw ad claims about ‘targeted relief’ in 2013.

One of the Nurofen advertisements which caught the eye of GSK

In the latest case, heard before Justice Foster in the Federal Court, GlaxoSmithKline complained about a 2015 Reckitt Benckiser advertising campaign which stated “Nurofen is better than Paracetamol’ and “Nurofen is superior to Paracetamol for tension type headaches.”

GSK argued these statements were based on one study which had been contradicted by later studies and said there was no basis in the science for supporting the alleged superiority of ibuprofen over paracetamol.

Justice Foster agreed with GSK writing:

In my view, it is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive consumers in Australia for Reckitt to claim that ibuprofen (Nurofen) provides faster and more effective relief from pain caused by common headaches including TTH (Tension Type Headaches) than does paracetamol (Panadol) when the only study which supports such a clear cut claim is the Schachtel Study and where the balance of the scientific knowledge is as I have explained it above. By making such representations, Reckitt also contravened s 29(1)(a) and s 29(1)(g) of the ACL (Australian Consumer Law).

The court upheld an injunction on Reckitt Benckiser making the claims and awarded costs to GSK with further orders to follow.

A spokesperson for Reckitt Benckiser told Mumbrella: “Nurofen is disappointed with the outcome and is currently considering the decision”.


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