AUTH/3272/10/19 - Complainant v ViiV

Company website

  • Received
    25 October 2019
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    05 October 2020
  • Breach Clause(s)
  • Sanctions applied
    Undertaking received
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal

Case Summary

A complainant who described him/herself as a concerned UK health professional, complained about a ViiV Healthcare website, the ViiV Exchange (

The complainant noted that there was nothing on the website to delineate between the general public, patients and health professionals before an individual went on to the website. The complainant alleged that this would encourage patients, and especially the general public, to use resources that should be restricted to health professionals.

The detailed response from ViiV is given below.

The Panel noted that those accessing the ViiV Exchange website immediately accessed the landing page of a website which was aimed at health professionals. Less prominently on the landing page, in the top right-hand corner, was one small, white tab marked ‘Healthcare Professionals’ and two small, grey tabs marked ‘I am a patient’ and ‘Public site’. In the Panel’s view, although tabs were available to direct patients and the public to information designed for them, given their size and colour, the tabs were indistinct in comparison to the rest of the landing page and, in that regard, would not be immediately obvious to the viewer. The Panel noted that instead of patients/public proactively being invited to access information designed for them, they had, instead, to navigate their own way off the website by using the unobtrusive tabs in the top right-hand corner. There was no pop-up or the like advising readers of which path through or off the website was intended for them. If members of the public or patients had proceeded to access the ViiV Exchange website, they would have accessed promotional material for prescription only medicines. The Panel considered that, given the prohibition on advertising prescription only medicines to the public, it was beholden on companies to make their best endeavours to ensure that websites designed for health professionals were not accessible by patients/public unless they made an informed and conscious effort to do so.

The Panel noted its comments above and considered that the format and presentation of the website in question was such that members of the public/patients would, on the balance of probabilities, be likely to access promotional material; they had not been encouraged to access material aimed at them. A breach of the Code was ruled.