The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a Notice of Appeal from the Federal Court’s decision ordering Reckitt Benckiser to pay penalties of $1.7 million for contravening the Australian Consumer Law.
In December 2015, following admissions by Reckitt Benckiser, the Court found that Reckitt Benckiser engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by making representations on its website and product packaging that Nurofen Specific Pain products were each formulated to specifically treat a particular type of pain, when this was not the case. In fact, each Nurofen Specific Pain product contains the same active ingredient, ibuprofen lysine 342mg, which treats a wide variety of pain conditions and is no more effective at treating the type of pain described on its packaging than any of the other Nurofen Specific Pain products.
On 29 April 2016, the Federal Court ordered Reckitt Benckiser to pay penalties totalling $1.7 million. The ACCC had submitted to the Court that a penalty of at least $6 million was appropriate in order to send a strong deterrence message, taking into account the longstanding and widespread nature of the conduct, and the substantial sales and profit that was made by selling the product.
“The ACCC will submit to the Full Court of the Federal Court that $1.7 million 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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“This is particularly the case when the judge found that Reckitt Benckiser had made many millions in profits from sales of 5.9 million units of these products at around 8,500 outlets during the relevant period.”