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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16962

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

O’Dowd A
Watchdog criticises drug company for misleading promotional material
BMJ 2009 Dec 22; 339:


A watchdog has criticised the drug company Ferring for five breaches of the United Kingdom’s drug advertising code, accusing it of misleading promotion of one of its products that omitted information about possible side effects.

Patients were also wrongly led to believe that they should ask their health professional to prescribe the gonadotrophin releasing hormone antagonist degarelix (sold as Firmagon), used to treat advanced prostate cancer, said the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority in its newly issued ruling. The authority regulates the advertising code of the UK’s drug company representative body, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals employed a press relations agency to promote degarelix. It supplied an approved press release about the launch of degarelix to give to outside agencies, including a patients’ organisation.

No other briefing materials should have been provided to external agencies without the approval of Ferring, but the press agency emailed . . .


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Email a Friend influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.