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ABPI reprimands for four pharma firms

Allergan, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Gedeon Richter and Sanofi breach Code of Practice

Allergan, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Gedeon Richter and Sanofi have been named and shamed for breaching the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry.  

Publicly reprimanded by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, Allergan successively failed to comply with an undertaking, continuing to claim that Vistabel/Botox was clinically more potent than Bocouture/Xeomin.

The company was found to have breached three of the Code's clauses, including the most serious Clause 2 (Bringing discredit upon, and reducing confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry), which results in an automatic industry press advert about the offence. There were also breaches of Clauses 9.1 (Failing to maintain high standards) and 25 (Failing to comply with an undertaking).

Shire breached the Code by distributing a journal reprint containing a bar chart giving an incorrect and misleading comparison between Shire's medicine and that of a competitor, and for failing to highlight the error to readers. In addition to breaching Clause 2, Shire was also found to have breached Clauses 7.2 (Making misleading claims), 7.3 (Making a misleading comparison) and 7.4 (Making claims incapable of substantiation).

Sanofi failed to comply with an undertaking, using a claim in a press release similar to one previously ruled in breach of the Code, and was ruled in breach of Clauses 2, 9.1 and 25 (Failing to comply with an undertaking).

In a separate case, Sanofi was censured for a representative having persuaded an NHS administrative assistant to send, on his/her behalf, a promotional email via the NHS.net system to local GP practices. In addition to Clauses 2 and 9.1, Sanofi breached 9.9 (Failing to obtain prior permission from the recipients to use email for promotional purposes), 12.1 (Disguising promotional materials) and 15.2 (Failing to maintain a high standard of ethical conduct).

Gedeon Richter has fallen foul of the ABPI for the second time in three months, having been caught sending out uncertified meeting invitations in September. This latest breach comes courtesy of Twitter, a third party engaged by the company having posted a tweet promoting Gedeon Richter's prescription-only medicine to the public and the company was subsequently ruled in breach of Clauses 2, 9.1 and 22.1 (Advertising a prescription only medicine to the public).

Advertisements highlighting the breaches will appear in The Nursing Standard on 18 December and the BMJ and The Pharmaceutical Journal on 21 December.

Article by
Tara Craig

20th December 2013

From: Marketing, Regulatory

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