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Galderma earns wrath of PMCPA in unprecedented case

Published on 07/10/14 at 08:59am
Galderma image

Galderma has sensationally pulled out of the UK’s good conduct pact after the watchdog overseeing the ABPI Code found ‘extremely concerning’ breaches were made by the firm. 

The PMCPA, which polices the ABPI’s Code of Practice in the UK, was told by an anonymous nurse that in order to attend an educational meeting about aesthetics organised by Galderma UK – that they had to buy two of its products.

The firm was presenting the meeting about its Botox rival Azzalure (botulinum toxins) and Pliaglis (tetracaine/lidocaine), a topical anaesthetic for use in dermatological procedures. 

The nurse told the PMCPA that a covering letter sent with the agenda, stated that there was no meeting charge for members of the nurse support group, but “due to the high calibre of the speakers provided by Galderma you are required to have purchased a minimum of two Emervel Classics from [a named pharmacy].”

The complainant said they were ‘disgusted’ that they were forced to buy at least two boxes of Galderma’s dermal fillers to be able to attend. 

The complainant submitted that firstly ‘it was just wrong’, and secondly, he/she did not even like or use the particular filler, and thirdly that they were not even trained on it. 

The PMCPA agreed and took exception to the way Galderma’s UK subsidiary acted, hitting the firm for being in breach of Clause 2 of the Code, bringing the industry into disrepute, the most serious breach a pharma firm can make.

This is because the PMCPA found that the named pharmacy was offering the products to attendees at a ‘special offer price’ of £74.34 per box. 

In an email seen by the watchdog, Galderma wrote: “You will also receive a free Restylane Skin Booster and complimentaries on the day. For a cost of £150 we get a fabulous deal, equivalent to £240 worth of products plus the meeting”. 

The PMCPA found that given these overall arrangements it was clear that in fact, attendees were essentially paid £90 to listen to talks promoting medicines. The panel says that paying health professionals to attend promotional meetings was ‘unacceptable’. 

Galderma appealed the breaches, but the body’s appeal board says it was ‘extremely concerned’ about the overall arrangements for the meeting and the ‘lack of control’ around it, and therefore dismissed the plea.

Serious problems

But in an unprecedented move the PMCPA went even further in its censure and says the whole episode calls into question just how seriously the company takes the Code, and its responsibilities under it.

The PMCPA says the firm must now be ‘publically reprimanded’ and also decided to require an audit of Galderma’s procedures in relation to the Code to be carried out ‘as soon as possible’.

The watchdog says in a statement that: “On receipt of the audit report the appeal board would consider whether further sanctions were necessary.”

But Galderma took exception to the PMCPA’s censure, and told the body that it declined to be audited, saying it “no longer accepted the jurisdiction of the PMCPA”. 

This prompted a second report to the appeal board which says that by making this move the firm would now be removed from the list of non-member companies (as it is not part of the ABPI, but has said in the past it would follow its rules) which had agreed to comply with the Code.

This means that the PMCPA now does not have responsibility for Galderma under the Code, and cannot be rebuked by the watchdog for its breaches, and will also no longer need to comply with the Code of Practice.

Ben Adams

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