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Court headache for Nurofen maker

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/09/2016

New Zealand's competition watchdog has laid court charges against the maker of four Nurofen painkillers, saying claims they could target different kinds of pain were bogus because they were made from the same ingredients.

The Commerce Commission says Reckitt Benckiser (New Zealand) intends to plead guilty to the 10 charges laid under the Fair Trading Act over labelling and advertising.

The commission alleges the packaging and adverts for Nurofen Migraine Pain, Nurofen Tension Headache, Nurofen Period Pain and Nurofen Back Pain gave the overall impression that the products were targeted to provide relief for a specific kind of pain.

"This was misleading because the pain specific products contained the same ingredients and were equally effective in treating any of the types of pain specified," it said in a statement on Monday.

Reckitt Benckiser had co-operated with the investigation and noted it intended to plead guilty to the charges, the commission said.

In a responding statement, the British multi-national said the products, which made up less than 5 per cent of its New Zealand range, were designed to "provide easy navigation of pain-relief within the grocery environment where pharmacy support is not available".

They all contained the same active ingredients and retailed for the same price, it said.

Both parties refused to say more as it was now before the courts.

Reckitt Benckiser took the products off the shelves in March after stopping advertising last year.

Earlier this year, the company was fined $A1.7 million ($NZ1.8m) by an Australian court over the packaging, which Australia's competition watchdog is now appealing as it thinks it should be closer to $A6m.

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