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Nurofen maker hit with $1.1m fine

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/02/2017 Paul McBeth

© Shutterstock The local arm of drug giant Reckitt Benckiser has been fined $1.1 million for misleading customers in the way it promoted its Nurofen specific pain range products.

The Commerce Commission brought 10 charges against the company over packaging and adverts that claimed products targeted a specific type of pain between 2011 and 2015.

However, Nurofen Migraine Pain, Nurofen Tension Headache, Nurofen Period Pain and Nurofen Back Pain all contained the same ingredients and worked identically.

"Consumers paid significantly more for these products compared to other ibuprofen products that would have had a similar effect," commission chairman Mark Berry said.

After pleading guilty, Reckitt Benckiser was sentenced in Auckland District Court on Friday.

The commission said sentencing Judge June Jelas described the company's behaviour as "highly misleading" and while she accepted Reckitt Benckiser expressed its remorse for its conduct, that was only after the investigation was opened.

The regulator's probe began after the Australian competition watchdog won a case against Reckitt Benckiser for misleading consumers with the painkiller's packaging. It was initially fined $A1.7m but an increased fine of $A6m is being appealed.

In a separate statement, Reckitt Benckiser said it took the "judgment very seriously and apologises for any unintentional confusion related to the specific-pain range packaging where NZ consumers could have been misled, this was never our intention."

Reckitt Benckiser (NZ) reported sales of $127.8m in calendar 2015, its most recent accounts, though the slashing of goodwill pushed earnings to a loss of $48.8m.

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