The makers of Nurofen will suffer a financial headache after being ordered to pay legal costs and losing a High Court appeal against a $6 million fine for misleading consumers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) first took pharmaceutical giant Reckitt Benckiser to court in 2015 for its ‘specific pain range’ packaging, which highlighted back pain, period pain, migraines and tension headaches painkillers despite the tablets being chemically identical.
While Nurofen Specific Pain products were similar to other standard Nurofen ibuprofen tablets, they cost almost double. The company was initially slapped with a $1.7 million fine, but the watchdog successfully appealed and the Federal Court increased the ‘inadequate’ fine to $6 million. The High Court of Australia on Wednesday dismissed the company’s appeal against the higher penalty and ordered it to pay legal costs.
Last year, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said it was the highest corporate penalty awarded for misleading conduct under Australian consumer law.
The company believed the original punishment was appropriate and said while it didn’t intend to mislead consumers, it recognised that more could have been done to ‘assist’ them in navigating the product range.