Painkiller manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser settled an Australian class action over its specific pain range last month
A $ 3.5 m class action over Nurofen tablets that falsely claimed they could target specific types of ache could yield very small payments for individual claimants, if everyone who bought the products steps forward.
The painkillers manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser, resolved the class action over its specific ache range at the federal court in Sydney last month.
According to the terms of that settlement, which was reached on behalf of claimants by law firm Bannister Law, each person who claimed to have bought the relevant painkillers between 2011 and 2015 would receive a situate sum in compensation per packet.
If the settlement is under-subscribed; that is, if the total amount claimed at the end of the settlement period is less than whatever funds remain once the third-party settlement administrator has been paid, then the leftover funds are returned to Reckitt Benckiser.
But if there are too many claimants for everyone to be paid the decide fee, the funds get paid to individual claimants will be adjusted at a pro rata rate.
Say only$ 2m is claimed out of the $3.5 m, and its $500,000 for the administrator and there is still$ 1m there, that money will go back to the respondent, Bannister Law lawyer Diane Chapman, who conducted the class action, told Guardian Australia.
But if there are 10 million Australians who applied for the funds it may only be a one-off pay of not a very large amount.
Chapman said that scenario was not out of the question.
Any person who bought one of the designated products between 2011 and 2015 is eligible to join the class action by applying online and then filling out a statutory declaration, which will be emailed out.
No proof of buy is necessitated, but those who claim to have spent more than $200 on the painkillers may be audited to determine both the veracity of their assert and the size of their settlement.
As of 31 July, the date the settlement was agreed, the class action had 1,700 members. A spokesman for Bannister Law said that number was growing daily.
The final number of members will not be determined until four months from the settlement hearing, which will be before the federal court in Sydney on 20 September.
Reckitt Benckiser was penalty $1.7 m by the federal tribunal in 2016 for misinforming customers about its range of specific pain products, which were variously packaged as targeting migraines, tension headaches, period ache and back pain. The fine was afterward increased on appeal to$ 6m, the highest-ever penalty for misinforming conduct under Australian consumer law.
Nurofen confessed to the court that all products contained exactly the same active ingredient, 342 mg of ibuprofen lysine, and none were more or less effective than any of the others at alleviating a specific source of pain.
The products were more expensive than standard Nurofen products, which use a different ibuprofen formula.
Chapman said some customers, particularly those with chronic pain issues, had expended several thousand dollars on the products.
There is a real social justice issue in this case, Chapman said. Theres a lot of people out there that would like to know that Reckitt Benckiser has done the incorrect thing and consumers have got some recompense.
Reckitt Benckiser did not respond to a request for comment.
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