Same product, different packaging for Nurofen

Nurofen manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser is still selling products similar to those that saw the company fined $1.7 million in the Federal Court today.

Last year, the Federal Court found Nurofen was marketing four painkillers separately when, in effect, they were the same as the company’s cheaper products.

The Nurofen Specific Pain Range was marketed separately as treating back pain, period pain, migraines, and tension headaches.

But Reckitt Benckiser continues to sell products from the previous Nurofen Specific Pain Range with different packaging. The new packaging includes the claim that the product provides “Fast Targeted Relief from Pain”.

Each of the four products in the range still names a specific type of pain on the packaging.

The company is selling the range under an interim arrangement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Western Independent visited three Perth pharmacies today and found one sold the Nurofen products with the new packaging. The others sold only Nurofen in the plain packaging.

Pharmacist Kim Law, from Manning Pharmacy, said he now told his customers the products are “exactly the same, no reason why one is better than the others”.

But Mr Law said people still asked for them because they believed they worked better.

Tom Godfrey, the spokesman for consumer group Choice, said consumers needed to look at the amount of ibuprofen or paracetemol in a pain relief product.

In one of the pharmacies visited by Western Independent, Nurofen Tension Headache cost $10.99 and Nurofen Period Pain $11.99.

The Nurofen not badged for a specific pain cost about half the price, $5.69.

All three products contain the same number of caplets with an equivalent amount of ibuprofen.

Mr Godfrey said the old products implied they targeted a specific type of pain, and this could result in people taking more than one pill if they had more than one type of pain.

Taking too many pills could be dangerous, Mr Godfrey said.

The new packets warn consumers not to take the product with other ibuprofen products.

The ACCC said in a statement today that Reckitt Benckiser would now have to clearly disclose on the packaging of its products for specific types of pain that they were equally effective for other types of pain.

The tension headache packet seen on sale today by Western Independent stated the product was “equally effective for migraine headache, period pain, back pain and general pain”.

But there was no similar message on the cheaper Nurofen package telling consumers it was also effective for these pains.

An ACCC spokesperson said the agreement only affected the packaging of the specific pain Nurofen products subject to the court case.