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Watchdog reprimands Novo Nordisk over £8m in undisclosed payments

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Watchdog reprimands Novo Nordisk over £8m in undisclosed payments

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk has been issued a public reprimand by the UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PCMPA) over its failure to disclose £7.8m in payment to organisations over a three-year period.

The advertising watchdog placed a notice on its website last Friday (July 5) explaining that its appeal board had identified “fundamental governance failures” that led to the non-disclosure of payments, which were made to over 150 bodies.

Most recipients were healthcare bodies, while patient groups and journalists were among some of the other recipients.

Accurate disclosure of payments is “fundamental to the principle of transparency and maintaining public confidence in the pharmaceutical industry”, said the PCMPA, which said the figure of £7.8m amounted to 10-14 per cent of the total transfers made in each year between 2020 and 2022.

“The wide-ranging systemic failures apparent to the appeal board included inadequate training, processes and monitoring,” said the PCMPA.

Novo Nordisk, which produces the weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, had submitted itself to the PCMPA for investigation after an internal audit – itself sparked by a separate complaint being pursued by the watchdog – had revealed inconsistencies between the payment amounts declared on a number of its agreements and the actual amounts that were paid.

The manufacturer said it takes “the reporting of these payments extremely seriously” and that it has implemented safeguards with regard to “how we track, tag and disclose payments,” adding that it is “working with external partners to ensure we have robust systems and processes in place”.

As Novo Nordisk is already in an audit cycle after being suspended by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the PCMPA did not judge that an “additional audit sanction” was necessary, and the reprimand does not carry any financial penalty.

Friday also saw the PCMPA publicise less serious breaches by Pfizer, for promoting its Covid-19 vaccine before it had been licensed, and to Novartis, for failing to update the online prescribing information for Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan) on one of the company’s websites.

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