Five UK pharma companies “named and shamed” by watchdog

Five pharma companies have been “named and shamed” for breaching the UK’s pharma industry code of practice.

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) said Grunenthal, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca UK, and Janssen-Cilag had been named in adverts after breaching the industry’s code of practice.

The most serious breach was that by Boehringer and Lilly in relation to an update to healthcare professionals on a forthcoming licence extension to their co-marketed diabetes treatment Jardiance. Promoting licence extensions before they are approved is strictly prohibited, and the companies were required to issue a corrective statement.

The breach was brought to light by a complaint by rivals Janssen, who said the companies’ Dear Doctor letter was disguised promotion of Jardiance. The PMCPA agreed, and upheld its decision despite an appeal by Boehringer and Lilly.

The PMCPA said all five companies had discredited the industry by breaching clause 2 of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s code.

The details of the four other cases:

Grunenthal had failed to comply with a previous requirement to brief reps regarding call rates and failing to agree written contracts in advance of contacting health professionals.

AstraZeneca allowed independent speakers to use uncertified presentations, which contained misleading information about the licensed indication for a respiratory drug.

Eli Lilly slipped up by distributing information which included an error regarding the dose of vitamin B12 that must be given with cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed).

And Janssen failed to certify promotional material and sent information to UK health professionals promoting Stelara (ustekinumab) for an unlicensed indication.

The ABPI created the code in 1958 to govern standards for promotion of medicines in the UK.

Since then it has grown to cover UK and European law relating to the promotion of medicines.

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