AUTH/3357/5/20 - Complainant v Colonis

Alleged advertising of prescription-only medicines to the public

  • Received
    29 May 2020
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    11 February 2021
  • No breach Clause(s)
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal

Case Summary

An anonymous complainant, who described him/herself as an independent healthcare digital consultant and writer, alleged that Colonis Pharma Limited advertised prescription-only medicines to the public on the products page of its corporate website.

The complainant submitted that displaying prescription-only medicines on a publicly accessible webpage was not in line with the Code. The content should have restricted access and only be viewable by health professionals that could prescribe the medicines.

The complainant noted that the products page of the company website allowed anyone from the general public to gain access to the prescription-only products that were being promoted online.

The detailed response from Colonis is given below.

The Panel noted Colonis’ submission that the products webpage contained a list of products in its portfolio and for each product there was a photograph of the pack, the generic or brand name (as applicable), and the strength and dosage form were also listed. In addition, further information for each individual product was available by clicking on a product-related link on the webpage. This further information concerned (where applicable) the key indication(s), therapeutic area, formulation information, storage information, pack size, whether a dosage device was provided, batch size, stability data and site of manufacture. In addition, for each product, there were links to the SPC and package leaflet hosted on the eMC website.

The Panel noted Colonis’ submission that its website was non-promotional and the information was provided as reference information for the public in accordance with the Code.

The Panel noted that there were no claims made for any of the products nor were the indications provided until a reader clicked on a specific product for further information. Whilst the Panel queried whether a prominent picture of the product in material for the public was appropriate, it did not consider that the complainant had discharged his/her burden of proof that the information provided on the products section of the Colonis website was such that it promoted prescription-only medicines to members of the public as alleged. No breaches of the Code were ruled including Clause 2.