Australia's competition watchdog is having a real headache over Reckitt Benckiser's Nurofen fine, filing an appeal in hopes to have it increased

Hayley Kirton
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A picture taken 10 June 2005 in Paris of
The ACCC would have preferred a fine closer to AU$6m (Source: Getty)

Australia's competition watchdog was really not impressed by Nurofen's recent advertising attempts, arguing that a AU$1.7m (£850,000) fine levied on the pharmaceutical brand is too small.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has today filed a notice of appeal against the Federal Court's decision ordering Nurofen's manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser to fork over the penalty for printing potentially misleading statements on its packaging.

Last December, the court decided that Nurofen Specific Pain products, which were advertised as being aimed towards specific complaints, was misleading, as the active ingredient in the medication treated various ailments rather than targeting the condition described in the statements.

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"The ACCC will submit to the full court of the Federal Court that AU$1.7m in penalties imposed on a company the size of Reckitt Benckiser does not act as an adequate deterrent and might be viewed as simply a cost of doing business," said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

"This is particularly the case when the judge found that Reckitt Benckiser had made many millions in profits from sales of 5.9m units of these products at around 8,500 outlets during the relevant period."

The ACCC has previously advised the court that it felt a penalty of at least AU$6m would have been appropriate.

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A Nurofen spokesperson said:

Nurofen Australia acknowledges that the ACCC has lodged an appeal in relation to the penalty decision of The Federal Court. Nurofen Australia is carefully considering the appeal with its legal advisers. This case is related to Australia only and is not applicable to other countries or regions.

Australia's watchdog is not the only one to have been up in arms over Nurofen's packaging. In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed that it was running its own investigation into whether claims made in regards to Nurofen Express could have misled consumers.

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Nurofen Express came to the ASA's attention because of claims that it could directly target muscles in the head.

The ASA had not replied to City A.M.'s request for comment at time of publication.

Shares in the FTSE 100 company closed down 0.5 per cent for the day at 6,789p.

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