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Regulator targets pain relief

CHOICE welcomes the ACCC’s decision to crack down on dodgy pain pill pack claims

5 March 2015

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has welcomed the ACCC’s decision to take the makers of Nurofen to the Federal Court over its targeted pain relief claims on products such as Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain, and Nurofen Tension Headache.

The move comes in the wake of a CHOICE investigation last year that found consumers were unnecessarily paying a premium because they believed a pain pill would target a particular part of their body.

“In reality the only relief their targeted marketing claims provide is to the weight of your wallet,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey. 

In 2013, Australians spent around $629 million on over the counter painkillers with branded products such as Panadol (28%) and Nurofen (22%) dominating the market.[1] 

“It’s clear the drug companies have been cashing in on your pain by tempting you to pay a premium for targeted pain pills,” says Mr Godfrey.

“Whether the pills claim to target your back or a tension headache they’ll certainly target your hip pocket – costing up to twice as much as standard Nurofen.”

“At best, claims that the active ingredients in pain pills can target your ‘neck and back’, period pain or headache are hard to swallow.”

“But that doesn’t stop supermarket or pharmacy shelves being packed with numerous Panadol and Nurofen products that at first glance appear to be vastly different.”

“The most effective targeted relief you can get is to look at the active ingredients on the pack. 200mg of ibuprofen is 200mg of ibuprofen – reaching for the pack with a flashy name or a targeted claim will just leave you with a pain in your hip pocket.”  

In 2010, CHOICE awarded Nurofen a Shonky for dodgy targeted pain relief claims:

http://classic.choice.com.au/shonkyaward/hall-of-shame/shonkys-2010/shonky-2010-nurofen.aspx 

CHOICE Tips

  • Look at the active ingredient and dosage you need
  • Don’t be fooled by targeted pain relief claims
  • Most painkillers are absorbed within 15-30 minutes
  • One standard paracetamol (500mg) and one ibuprofen (200mg) combined may work better than either product for acute pain
  • Ask your pharmacist about inactive ingredients



[1] Euromonitor International

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