AUTH/3574/11/21 - Health Professional v GW Pharmaceuticals

Alleged promotion to the public

  • Received
    04 November 2021
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    29 July 2022
  • No breach Clause(s)
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal

Case Summary

An anonymous non-contactable complainant who described him/herself as a hospital consultant treating patients with neurological conditions complained about the alleged promotion of medicines to the public by GW Pharmaceuticals.

The complainant stated that he/she had serious concerns following the 7th Global Symposium on Medical Ketogenic Dietary Therapies meeting where conference delegates included patients and their carers in addition to health professionals, including members of the public aged 10 and under with their parents.

The complainant stated that GW pharmaceuticals had a stand at the meeting which was in full view of everyone at the conference and on which representatives were having discussions about the company’s medicines in full view and ear shot of the non-medical delegates. The complainant alleged that there was promotion to the public by having a stand at the conference which was in full view of everyone and he/she saw patients reading the banner which included the company’s pipeline of medicines.

The detailed response from Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which GW Pharmaceuticals was now a part of, is detailed below.

The Panel noted Jazz’s submission that the conference was usually split into two days, one day for health professionals, which it sponsored and attended, and one day for patients which the company had never attended and which it understood had not gone ahead in 2021. The Panel further noted that the conference exhibition and sponsorship programme described the participants as approximately 500+ health care professionals; there was no mention of the attendance of patients or any members of the public.

The Panel noted Jazz’s submission that the two medical team members on the non promotional stand reported that during the congress they spoke with five health professional delegates and an ex-GW Pharmaceuticals employee and that no conversations took place that mentioned any medicine.

The Panel noted Jazz’s submissions that the only material present on the stand was a banner headed ‘GW Cannabinoid Pipeline’ which illustrated the development pipeline of four molecules. Each of the molecules on the banner was an investigational product which was sometime away from potential licensing and most were pre phase three investigational products except one product which was about to start recruiting for patients for the phase three trial. There was no other material or branding nor was there mention of any prescription only medicine on the stand.

In the Panel’s view, the complainant’s allegation was in relation to promotion to members of the public; there was no allegation in relation to health professionals and therefore it ruled no breach of the Code in this regard.

In relation to the overall allegations of promotion to the public, the Panel did not consider that there was any evidence that there were any members of the public present at the meeting that would view the stand nor that any discussions about medicines had occurred within the ear shot of members of the public. The Panel further noted that each of the molecules listed on the banner did not yet have a licence and therefore were not at the time considered prescription only medicines.

The Panel, noting its comments above, did not consider that the complainant had established that GW Pharmaceuticals had promoted its pre-licence pipeline products to members of the public as alleged.

Nor did the Panel consider that the complainant had established, on the balance of probabilities, that prescription only medicines had been promoted to the public as alleged and based on the evidence before it, ruled no breaches of the Code.

The Panel consequently ruled no breaches of the Code including no breach of Clause 2 overall.