The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking the makers of Voltaren to court, alleging they made misleading representations in the marketing of their Voltaren Osteo Gel and Voltaren Emulgel pain relief products.
The ACCC alleges shoppers are likely to have been misled into buying the more expensive Osteo Gel, thinking it is more beneficial for treating osteoarthritis conditions, when in fact, it is identical to normal Voltaren.
“We allege that consumers are likely to have been misled into purchasing Osteo Gel thinking that it is different to Emulgel, when this is not the case,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
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“In fact, the product has an identical formulation to Emulgel, and both products are equally effective in treating not only osteoarthritis, but also a range of other pain conditions.”
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The consumer watchdog said it found that Osteo Gel is often being sold at supermarkets and pharmacies at a significantly higher price to Emulgel.
For example, Osteo Gel 150g was found in-store at up to $7.50 (or 33%) more than Emulgel 150g.
“We allege GSK and Novartis engaged in a deliberate commercial strategy to differentiate the products in a way that was likely to mislead consumers,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC has now launched proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Novartis, seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, a publication order, the imposition of a compliance program and costs.