AUTH/3236/8/19 - Health professional v Merck Sharp & Dohme

Information on Disclosure UK

  • Received
    14 August 2019
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    20 January 2020
  • No breach Clause(s)
  • Breach Clause(s)
  • Sanctions applied
    Undertaking received
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal
  • Review
    To be published in the Review

Case Summary

A health professional complained about information on the Disclosure UK database. The complainant had raised matters previously regarding data for 2017 posted by Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited and these were considered in Case AUTH/3141/12/18. That case had been appealed. Following notification of the outcome of the Panel’s ruling in that case, the complainant noted that there was a further incorrect entry on Disclosure UK.

The complainant stated that he/she was disappointed that, despite the efforts of both the Panel and the organisations concerned, the 2018 Disclosure database included a further incorrect entry indicating that he/she received financial support from Merck Sharp & Dohme. This further underlined his/her concern of a systemic failure of data verification.

The detailed response from Merck Sharp & Dohme is given below.

The Panel considered that disclosure of a transfer of value against an individual who had not received such a transfer meant that Merck Sharp & Dohme had not complied with the Code. Breaches of the Code were ruled including that the published information was inaccurate and misleading.

The Panel identified that incorrect material was on Disclosure UK on 23 July 2019 and Merck Sharp & Dohme was notified on 26 July of its rulings in Case AUTH/3141/12/18. It was concerning that Merck Sharp & Dohme had not carried out additional checks prior to publication of the data given the complaint in Case AUTH/3141/12/18 which was sent to the company in January 2019. The failure to conduct comprehensive checks and cross checks meant that high standards had not been maintained and a breach was ruled.

The Panel was very concerned that when the undertakings were signed in Case AUTH/3141/12/18, Merck Sharp & Dohme knew that incorrect information regarding the same complainant was still present on Disclosure UK. It had been so informed by the Panel on 26 July when it had advised the company of its rulings in Case AUTH/3141/12/18.

The Panel considered that as the undertaking had not been given until 13 August, the second publication of incorrect information on Disclosure UK in June did not amount to a breach of that undertaking and therefore ruled no breach of the Code including Clause 2.

The Panel considered that, on balance, to inaccurately disclose information about a named individual who had not received any transfer of value from the company for a second time reduced confidence and brought discredit upon the industry, particularly as Merck Sharp & Dohme had time and opportunity to double check the position. Further, to sign the undertaking required for the previous case on 13 August, stating that the incorrect data had last appeared on Disclosure UK in January, with no acknowledgement that the company knew on 26 July that further incorrect data about the same health professional had been published was extremely concerning. The Panel ruled a breach of Clause 2.