AUTH/2349/8/10 - Anonymous group of practice nurses v Novo Nordisk
Case Number: AUTH/2349/8/10
Case Ref: Anonymous group of practice nurses v Novo Nordisk
Description: Conduct of representative
Breach: No breach
Appeal: No appeal
Review: Published in the November 2010 Review
Complaint Received: 18 August 2010
Complaint Completed: 20 September 2010
An anonymous and non-contactable group of practice nurses complained about the activities of two representatives, one of whom worked for Novo Nordisk whilst the other worked for a devices company.
The complainants stated that the Novo Nordisk representative, who was well known to them, could be a regular nuisance, just walking into their rooms and ignoring receptionists. The representatives were now both going around together promoting their different products at the same time and their visits were less than informative. They asked if they could record a visit as a works call and said they were under pressure to see so many people per day but the complainants often got follow-up marketing survey calls and felt they would be put on the spot particularly if no medicines or devices had been mentioned as was often the case. They had both said their managers knew they did this which the complainants found extraordinary.
Surely it was illegal for two representatives from different companies to call on health professionals together and promote each of their products? The complainants stated that they had been driven to complain because the Novo Nordisk representative was attending daytime and evening meetings held by the other representative, particularly in local hospitals throughout June and July. At these meetings the Novo Nordisk representative got involved with laboratory personnel and nurses regarding the features and quality control of the devices of the second company. The complainants believed that as a Novo Nordisk representative she was not trained to do this and some of the staff had no idea that she didn’t work for the devices company.
The detailed response from Novo Nordisk is given below.
The Panel noted that the complainants were anonymous and non-contactable. As set out in the introduction to the Constitution and Procedure, the complainants had the burden of proving their complaint on the balance of probabilities. Anonymous complaints were accepted and like all complaints judged on the evidence provided by the parties.
The Panel noted that there were some differences in detail between the parties’ accounts. It was difficult in such circumstances to determine precisely what had occurred. The Panel noted that the Novo Nordisk representative had denied the allegations that she had walked into rooms andignored receptionists, falsified call records in order to meet call rate targets or discussed features of the second company’s devices. The representative had, however, held two joint meetings with the second company’s representative but these were at lunchtime in GP surgeries and not in the evening or at the hospitals identified by the complainants. The representative had only provided ‘maintenance of relationship’ cover for the hospitals mentioned by the complainants, whilst the usual representative was on sick leave.
The Panel noted that it was not a breach of the Code per se for representatives from different companies to hold joint meetings and each promote their own company’s products provided all of the arrangements complied with the Code. The Panel noted the allegation that the Novo Nordisk representative, when on her own, would walk into the complainants’ rooms and ignore receptionists. The Panel was concerned that the complainants alleged that the representatives’ visits were less than informative. The representative had denied this allegation. In this regard the Panel noted in particular the requirements of the Code that representatives must ensure that, inter alia, the manner in which calls were made on health professionals did not cause inconvenience. The wishes of individuals on whom representatives wished to call and the arrangements in force at any particular establishment, must be observed. The Panel queried why the complainants continued to see the representatives if they were so concerned about their activities. Novo Nordisk had not provided any information about the role of the manager who, according to the complainants, knew about the representatives’ activities.
The Panel considered that there was insufficient evidence before it to determine on the balance of probabilities that a breach of the Code had occurred. No breach was thus ruled.