AUTH/3339/4/20 - Employee v Accord

Promotion of prescription only medicines on LinkedIn

  • Received
    27 April 2020
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    30 November 2020
  • Breach Clause(s)
  • Sanctions applied
    Undertaking received
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal

Case Summary

An anonymous, contactable employee complained about the promotion of medicines on LinkedIn by Accord-UK Ltd. The LinkedIn post at issue stated that the company, in response to a growing demand for vital COVID-19 medicines, including cisatracurium, midazolam and paracetamol, was working with regulatory agencies to expedite the approval of a new manufacturing facility to increase medicine output. Accord manufactured all of the medicines referred to in formulations for injection/infusion; all of them were prescription only medicines.

The detailed response from Accord is given below.

The Panel considered that Accord’s LinkedIn post would be read by a wide range of people including, on the balance of probabilities, members of the public. The post referred positively to three of Accord’s prescription only medicines. The Panel noted that the Code prohibited the promotion of a prescription only medicine to the public. The Panel thus considered that the LinkedIn post describing the medicines as ‘vital COVID-19 medicines’ promoted prescription only medicines to members of the public; some people might assume that if they, or their relatives were not being treated with such medicines, they were not getting adequate care. A breach of the Code was ruled. The Panel considered that high standards had not been maintained. A further breach of the Code was ruled.

The Panel noted that the LinkedIn post was made with the knowledge and authority of Accord and was concerned that the phrase ‘vital COVID-19 medicines’ was not recognised as a claim. The material had been posted on a social media platform open to the public with no recognition that it was promotional; in the Panel’s view this demonstrated an extremely poor understanding of the Code. The Panel noted its comments and concerns above and considered that Accord had brought discredit upon, and reduced confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry. A breach of Clause 2 was ruled.