The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Wednesday said it is taking local units of GlaxoSmithKline and Swiss healthcare company Novartis to court over false or misleading representations in the marketing of pain relief products.
It claims they represented Osteo Gel on its packaging and online as specifically formulated for treating osteoarthritis and was more effective than Emulgel, when they had identical formulas.
Both products contain the same active ingredient, diclofenac diethylammonium gel 11.6mg/g, which acts in a non-specific manner to reduce local pain and inflammation wherever it is applied.
"We allege that consumers are likely to have been misled into purchasing Osteo Gel thinking that it is different to Emulgel and more effective for treating osteoarthritis conditions, when this is not the case," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
A spokeswoman for GSK said the company was disappointed with the allegations, but was cooperating with proceedings: "While [Voltaren Osteo Gel] contains the same effective formulation as Voltaren Emulgel, we believe the design of the packaging helps people with osteoarthritis open the cap more easily and the instructions for use reflect the TGA-approved instructions for use in osteoarthritis," she said. "We were of the view the product name reflects this."
GSK acquired Novartis' portfolio of Voltaren products last year and is now responsible for marketing and selling the brand. The companies made their false or misleading representations on product packaging and Voltaren's local website, the ACCC said.
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