The Meeting Place

Court finds popular arthritis gel misled consumers

The Federal Court has found the makers of Voltaren Osteo Gel and Voltaren Emugel pain relief products breached the Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading representations about their effectiveness.

The Court found that from January 2012 to March 2017, Novartis and then GSK, marketed Osteo Gel as being specifically formulated and more effective than Emulgel in treating osteoarthritis related pain and inflammation. In fact, Osteo Gel and Emulgel products are essentially the same.

An Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) investigation found that despite having the same active ingredients, Osteo Gel was often sold at a significantly higher retail price than Emulgel. For example, Osteo Gel 150g cost 33 per cent more than Emulgel 150g in some stores.

“Novartis and GSK misled osteoarthritis sufferers into buying the more expensive Osteo Gel thinking that it was more effective than Emulgel for treating their symptoms, when this is not the case,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

The claims were made on product packaging and the Voltaren website by both companies and Novartis also made the claims on the My Joint Health website.

“This decision serves as a warning to all businesses that misleading consumers into thinking that products are specifically formulated to treat or target certain conditions when this is not the case can lead to serious consequences,” Ms Court added.

“Novartis and GSK’s conduct continued after the ACCC’s successful action against the makers of Nurofen for similar conduct involving its pain relief products. In this case both gels are identical and are equally effective in treating osteoarthritis symptoms and a range of other pain conditions.”

In March 2017 GSK amended the Osteo Gel packaging to include the words “Same effective formula as Voltaren Emulgel”. The Court found that while clearer wording would have been preferable, these additional words and other changes made to the packaging meant that the same misleading representations were not made.

A hearing will be held at a later date to determine penalties.

7 comments

Tried it some time ago and found it useless.

Needless to say I didnt buy more, but all the manufacturer needs is suckers world wide to buy it once and they make a squillion dollars

You can only use it for 10 to 14 days as it damages your Stomach!

You can only use it for 10 to 14 days as it damages your Stomach!

I've used Voltaren Emugel for fresh muscle/joint injuries such as sprains and strains as in sports/garden injuries.

It has always worked well for me ... I prefer it to taking tablets tablets.

Never tried Voltaren Osteo Gel.

No need to try it Suze. Its the same as Emulgel!

Used to find it Voltaren Emulgel very effective for localised injuries BUT ...

had to stop using it when I was put onto blood thinners because of dangerous incompatibilities.

For example, the following blood thinners:

• Warfarin — Using diclofenac (Voltaren Emulgel) and warfarin may increase the risk of bleeding ... as I discovered to my detriment.
• Xarelto — Using diclofenac (Voltaren Emulgel) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto) together can interfere with clotting and cause bleeding, especially when used regularly or for prolonged periods.
• Eliquis — Using diclofenac (Voltaren Emulgel) and apixaban (Eliquis) together may increase the risk of bleeding, including severe and sometimes fatal hemorrhage.

Similarly be aware of the incompatibilities between blood thinners and aspirin or the anti-inflammatory ibroprophen (Brufen®, Nurofen®)

I always check the ingredients on the packaging now, after I found Deep Heat Arthritis and Deep Heat Night Time had the same ingredients but different prices a few years ago.

I have found Voltaren immediately effective as a topical treatment for gout - long enough to enable me to get to the doctor for for other treatment. I find if i use it for more than a few days I begin to feel sick in the stomach.

I have used it often with no gastric side effects. These side effects are real and do occur, but only in a small percentage of patients. Rob 101 , si you are using it topiclly and not taking it irally it would be very unlikely to uipset your stomach. But please note RnR commenst as the interactions are important.

Apologies for the lack of proof reading.... should read if you are using it topically and  not taking it orally it would be very unlikely to upset your stomach.

Pharmacists would know the facts on the products so they are at fault for reaping the profits.

Agree entirely! Bad form isn't it?

Pharmacists do not manufacture the product. Nor do they set the 'recommended retail price'. They too would have to pay a higher wholesale price for the product so of course they will sell at the RRP plus or minus. Go to a discount chemist where almost (but not all) stock is generally cheaper.

What they can do is explain the diofference if you ask. Trouble is most people do not ask nor do they actually read the pack. Exactly the same thing happened with Neurofen who packaged the same pills in different packs for different pain and charged more for some than others.

7 comments