PAGB intercompany formal advertising complaint – summary report 19.07.2023

On 25 May 2023, having first attempted inter-company dialogue, Haleon raised formal concerns with PAGB regarding the claim “Pay less* for all-day** topical pain relief” (*Compared to the alternative branded diclofenac gel’s usual price online at Boots, Asda and Morrisons), seen in Motusol Max 2.32% w/w Gel in consumer advertising.

The complaint asserted that the claim was misleading because it implied Motusol Max 2.32% w/w Gel was equivalent to Voltarol Max Strength Pain Relief 2.32% Gel in all respects other than price. It noted that while the active pharmaceutical ingredient is the same for the products, the delivery would differ due to the excipients and highlighted differences in the relevant product SmPCs. Haleon asserted that in light of the differences between products, it is not possible to accurately make a direct price comparison claim. As such the comparative claim made is likely to mislead consumers.

The PAGB reported noted that the claim compared the price of Motusol Max 2.32% w/w Gel to “alternative branded diclofenac gels”. At the time of assessment, the only alternative diclofenac gel available with equivalent strength was Voltarol Max Strength Pain Relief 2.32% Gel, so we considered it reasonable to consider this a direct price comparison between the two products.

When reviewing this complaint PAGB considered both the PAGB Consumer Code for Medicines and the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code), which provides more detailed rules regarding comparative advertising. The latter states that for a comparison to be considered acceptable it must compare products meeting the same need or intended for the same purpose (rule 3.34). Products do not need to be identical for a comparison to be considered valid.

We noted that the comparison referred to “topical pain relief” and both products are indicated for local symptomatic relief/treatment of pain. From a consumer perspective, we considered that the indications, effects and mode of action are sufficiently similar to consider the products as meeting the same need and that a comparison between the two products on this basis is fair.

On balance, we considered that the comparison was fair and unlikely to mislead consumers.

Conclusion: No breach of the Code

Read more about the PAGB Complaints Procedure.

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