Nurofen faces ACCC action over misleading packaging

The ACCC is cracking down on Reckitt Benckiser for false and misleading claims on its Nurofen packaging, instituting proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the company.


The ACCC alleges that Reckitt Benckiser Australia’s packaging of its Nurofen Specific Pain Products claimed falsely and misleadingly that each product was targeted to treat a specific type of pain when they were in fact identical.

It’s seeking declarations, injunctions, an order for the publication of corrective notices, penalties and costs from the company.

Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain and Nurofen Tension Headache all contain identical ingredients: 342mg of active ingredient ibuprofen lysine.

The Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods has approved all four products as suitable for treating a wide variety of pain types.

But the brand’s website claimed that each Nurofen Specific product was:

  • Was designed and formulated to treat a particular type of pain,
  • had specific efficacy in treating a particular type of pain, and
  • solely treated a particular type of pain.


Click image to enlarge (image via ACCC)

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Despite their identical ingredients, Reckitt Benckiser has been pushing the specifically labelled Nurofen products at prices much higher than standard.

“Recent price sampling conducted by the ACCC revealed that these products are being sold at retail prices around double that of Nurofen’s standard ibuprofen products and standard products of its competitors,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims says.

“The ACCC takes false or misleading claims about the efficacy of health and medical products very seriously. Indeed, truth in advertising and consumer issues in the health and medical sectors are ACCC enforcement priorities in 2015.”

In 2013, ABC TV show The Checkout aired this segment criticising Nurofen’s marketing tactics, featuring Julian Morrow, Kirsten Drysdale and University of Sydney pharmacy professor Andrew McLachlan.


Michelle Herbison
BY Michelle Herbison ON 5 March 2015
Assistant editor, Marketing Magazine.