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Nurofen Told To Stop "Implying" Tablets Target Specific Pain When They Don't

Reckitt Benckiser, the owner of Nurofen, has been slapped on the wrist for a TV advert suggesting its brand can target specific pain as that is "not the case".

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A TV advert for Nurofen has been banned for misleading viewers by suggesting it can target specific pain in the body.

The advert, which has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), showed a woman with back pain taking Nurofen Joint and Back tablets. The screen showed an image of the tablets moving down her body to her back, with a Nurofen symbol indicating where the pain relief was targeting.

The ad then showed shots of the woman going about her usual day-to-day activities without any pain while the voiceover said: "Just a single dose... provides you with constant targeted pain relief for up to 8 hours."

The ASA said the advert fell foul of three rules and that the claim was misleading, exaggerated, and unsubstantiated.

It is not the first time Nurofen has been pulled up for misleading consumers. In April, the company was fined $1.7m Australian dollars (£890,000) for making unsubstantiated claims.

Australia's Federal Court ordered the fine after it ruled all Nurofen products contained the same active ingredient, despite being marketed as being capable of targeting specific sources of pain.

It said Reckitt Benckiser had fallen foul of consumer law by claiming Nurofen Back Pain, Nurofen Period Pain, Nurofen Migraine Pain, and Nurofen Tension Headache could target specific pains.

At the time, Nurofen agreed it could have "done more to assist our consumers in navigating the Nurofen Specific Pain Range" and said it had not intentionally misled customers.

Earlier this year in the UK, the company informally resolved complaints about another TV ad for Nurofen Express with the ASA.

The body told Nurofen not to imply the Express product targeted headaches, and the company agreed not to make the claim again.

The rulings are likely to heap pressure on manufacturers about the way they promote painkillers and the claims they make about them. While other painkiller brands have been banned in the past, this is the first time the ASA has publicly investigated claims about a product targeting a specific area of pain.

A spokesman for the brand told BuzzFeed News: “Nurofen is disappointed with the Advertising Standards Authority’s decision.

"Nurofen pain-specific products were introduced to provide easy navigation of pain-relief options for consumers experiencing a specific type of pain, particularly within the grocery environment where pharmacy support isn’t available.

“All TV advertising claims made in the UK are supported by robust evidence and approved by the relevant independent external agencies. Our TV adverts go through this normal process and receive full sign off by the agencies before broadcast.”

The ASA said while the product, which includes Ibuprofen, was proven to work it could not seek out a specific source of pain and to suggest otherwise was "misleading".

"Because the ad implied the product had a special mechanism which meant it specifically targeted back and joint pain, and was especially effective at relieving those sources of pain, when that was not the case, we concluded that it was misleading," the ASA said in its ruling.

Contact Sara Spary at sara.spary@buzzfeed.com.

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