The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has pulled up four pharmaceutical companies, namely Novartis, Pfizer, Otsuka, and Novo Nordisk, for breaking its code of practice.

The UK body stated that the companies have discredited and reduced confidence in the pharmaceutical industry by not adhering to certain clauses related to payment disclosures to healthcare professionals and patient organisations.

ABPI noted that Novo Nordisk was involved in the most serious breach, having failed to disclose transfers worth approximately £7.8m ($10m) taking place between 2020 and 2022.

Novo Nordisk voluntarily said it failed to disclose approximately 500 transfers to 155 vendors including healthcare institutions, patients, and journalists. The undisclosed transfers made up approximately 10% –14% of each year’s total transfers of value, as per Novo Nordisk’s declaration.

ABPI tagged Novo Nordisk’s failure to disclose payments as “extremely concerning” and said the company “had a lack of oversight and its processes were wholly inadequate”.

This is not the first time that the Danish pharmaceutical company has been in hot water with ABPI. In March 2023, the industry organisation suspended Novo Nordisk’s membership for two years citing “serious breaches” in conduct. As part of the suspension, Novo Nordisk will be subjected to audits in late 2023 and 2024, with ABPI deciding on the company’s reinstatement.

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Novartis’ breach centred around out-of-date prescription information for its heart failure medication Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan). The UK agency alleged that an event organised and funded by Novartis failed to tag the Entresto prescription document as “promotional”.

Entresto generated $6bn in sales last year, as per the company’s financials. Entresto sales are predicted to decline as generic variants become available shortly, with the therapy only expected to pull in $1.2bn in 2030, as per GlobalData analysis.

GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology.

Pfizer’s transgression was promoting an unlicensed Covid-19 vaccine on X (formerly Twitter). The tweet was posted by a senior member of the Pfizer development team, which was then shared by a senior Pfizer UK employee. Covid-19 products were a major revenue source for Pfizer, however, those sales have fallen in recent months.

ABPI found Otsuka Pharmaceuticals to have breached the code for failing to disclose relevant information in its response to a previous case concerning the conduct of a senior Otsuka employee. The complaint filed by an ex-Otsuka employee noted that interviewees had not been allowed to see or sign the statements submitted to the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) in connection with that case. The complaint went on to say that three employees were forced out of the company as they were seen to be whistleblowers.