Nurofen Under Cross-Hairs For ‘Targeted Pain Relief’ Ads

Nurofen Under Cross-Hairs For ‘Targeted Pain Relief’ Ads
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The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has ordered Nurofen to stop claiming that its pain killers target the source of pain. The TGA argues that while the maceutical ingredient ibuprofen can provide broader pain relief, it does not provide specific relief to target areas, contrary to Nurofen’s advertisements.

Nurofen has been forced to face the TGA’s complaints resolution panel over claims that its medication products target the source or cause of pain. The panel had received two complaints from the public over misleading statements the brand had made in its advertisements. The complainants provided a smorgasbord of evidence including televised ads, slogans and website pages.

Below is a typical example that was submitted to the TGA by Dr Ken Harvey:

“When you need pain relief, you know exactly where you need it. Nurofen knows this. That’s why it’s designed to work with your body and act at the site of the pain. Giving you smart relief right where you need it. Nurofen targeted relief; smart relief.”

The TGA determined that the above claim and other like it are in breach of certain section of the Advertising Code and ordered the company to withdraw any representations that the advertised products target the source of pain or cause of pain.

If you actually take the time to read the labels on pain relief products, this verdict shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Any “targeted relief” claims made by over-the-counter pain killers are usually pretty dubious; especially if the product highlights specific body areas. Indeed, some brands market multiple products for different ailments despite containing identical ingredients — as always, you should take any advertising claims with a huge grain of salt; especially when it comes to medicine.

Nurofen Complaints Resolution Panel Determination [Therapeutic Goods Administration]


  • Guessing this has something to do with the Chasers show “The Checkout” since they pointed out how terrible the TGA is and how Neurofen is lying in these ads. Looks like the TGA is now starting to do its job

  • It seems like the only thing the TGA does these days is respond to issues brought up by “The Checkout”. What have they been doing the last god knows how many years? These aren’t new things, they’re not new claims or advertising campaigns, the TGA should have acted the moment they first saw a Neurofen box claiming targeted relief.

    • Seeing as they only received two complaints from the public, I imagine they need more work. Get on to it!

  • While I agree that the ads are a bit misleading. Ibuprofen does have an anti-inflammatory effect which is most pronounced around areas of injury or infection, this alone is the ‘targeted bit’, which honestly is more specific than the broad analgesic effects of paracetamol alone. I think the biggest trick is that people think that one brand (containing the same active ingredient) would have a greater or more targeted effect than the other.

    • Don’t know about your comment re: paracetamol given the theory is that it is a cyclo-oxygenase (COX) III inhibitor, whereas ibuprofen is a COX I & II inhibitor – thus according to your logic they should be similar. The truth is that both drugs inhibit COX throughout the body – hence the gastric side effects of ibuprofen. This rubbish about ‘targeted pain relief’ has been a proverbial pain in my ass for years and i’m glad someone working at TGA has finally been roused!

  • I love how there is now Nurofen Cold and Flu medicine – and their jingle is a tune played by a brass band which subliminally suggests one should soldier on.

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