The UK maker of the Nurofen “specific pain” range of products has defended their packaging, after an Australian court ordered the products off shelves. The court said the UK-based Reckitt Benckiser had misled consumers.
It said products marketed to treat specific pains, such as migraine, were identical to one another. Consumer research indicates that 9 in 10 people (88%) look for pain relief for a specific type of pain. The products affected by the Australian court order include Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache.
Each product contained the same active ingredient, ibuprofen lysine 342 mg. The retail price for each of the pain-specific products was also found to be “significantly higher” than other comparable products, the ACCC added.
Manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser said the case related only to Australia, and that it was continuing to work with regulators there “to ensure Nurofen packaging continues to be fully aligned with all guidelines and requirements”.
It said the ruling would not be applicable in other countries, including the UK, where it sells Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache in caplets, as well as Nurofen Express Period Pain in soft capsules.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines including over-the-counter painkillers in the UK.
Richard Headland, editor of Which?, said: “Our research shows many painkilling medicines have exactly the same active ingredients, despite vastly different marketing, packaging and pricing. Our advice to people is to buy cheaper generic medicines wherever possible and, if in doubt, ask a pharmacist.”
It has been ordered to publish correction notices in newspapers and on its website and to pay the ACCC’s court costs. This story has been amended to clarify that the products in question were different from the standard Nurofen product.