CONSUMERS have launched a class action against the makers of Nurofen over drugs the company claimed targeted specific kinds of pain, and sold at double the price of its regular product.
The Nurofen Specific Pain Range products were marketed as treating different complaints, but drug company Reckitt Benckiser admitted they were identical in makeup, containing the same active ingredient, ibuprofenu lysine 342mg.
The action lodged by Bannister Law seeks a refund and damages for customers who bought Nurofen Migraine Pain, Tension Headache, Back Pain and Period Pain pills between 2011 and December last year.
This covers any one or more of four pain killing boxes: Nurofen Migraine Pain (in a violet box); Nurofen Tension Headache (in a burgundy box); Nurofen Period Pain (in a magenta box); and Nurofen Back Pain (in a green box).
Charles Bannister, founder and principal at Bannister Law, said the marketing, advertising and packaging of the Nurofen Specific Pain Range products “exploited consumers who had bought any of these expensive tablets to treat migraines, headaches, period pain or back pain. None of these costly tablets actually targeted these specific pain symptoms. Australians have a right to feel duped by the deceptive marketing and selling of these expensive pain tablets which were sold at a premium price.”
The class action has been brought on behalf of consumers who purchased the tablets.
“I’m passionate about this case,” said Charles Bannister. “As well as seeking justice for affected consumers, it’s important we send a message to Reckitt Benckiser that Australia isn’t a soft touch – that we’re not to be treated with such disrespect.”
It follows a Federal Court ruling on December 11 that the packaging misled consumers into believing the drugs were formulated to treat specific ailments.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took the company to the Federal Court in March last year, alleging it had made false and misleading claims in marketing the range. Reckitt Benckiser admitted it had contravened the law and the court ordered the products be removed from retail shelves within three months. Interim packaging was to “clearly disclose to consumers that the products are equally effective for other forms of pain.”
The court also ordered that Reckitt Benckiser publish website and newspaper corrective notices, implement a consumer protection compliance program, and pay the ACCC’s costs.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims told news.com.au in December the watchdog would be seeking the maximum possible penalty, which could be up to $1.1 million per offence.
In a statement at the time, Nurofen spokeswoman Montse Pena said the company “did not set out to mislead consumers.”
Reckitt Benckiser has not yet responded to news.com.au’s request for comment.