ACCC sues pharmaceutical giants

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking GlaxoSmithKline Healthcare Australia Pty Ltd (GSK) and Novartis Consumer Health Australasia Pty Ltd (Novartis) to court over the marketing of  Voltaren Osteo Gel and Voltaren Emulgel pain relief products.

The ACCC has launched proceedings in the Federal Court alleging that UK firm GlaxoSmithKline and Switzerland’s Novartis advertised that Osteo Gel specifically formulated for treating osteoarthritis conditions was more effective than Emulgel to treat those conditions.

This was despite the two products being identically formulated, containing the same active ingredient, diclofenac diethylammonium.

The ACCC alleges this amounts to false or misleading representations.

“We allege GSK and Novartis engaged in a deliberate commercial strategy to differentiate the products in a way that was likely to mislead consumers,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“The alleged conduct is particularly concerning, given the significant penalties handed down by the court against the makers of Nurofen for what we consider to be similar conduct.”

The ACCC is seeking financial penalties, declarations, injunctions, a publication order and the imposition of a compliance program and costs.



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