An NHS and Muslim affairs advisor to a healthcare management company complained that ProStrakan representatives had described Adcal-D3 Caplets (calcium carbonate and vitamin D3) as Halal without the necessary approval from a relevant Halal certifying body. The complainant noted the conduct of one local representative in that regard.
The detailed response from ProStrakan is given below.
The Panel noted ProStrakan’s submission that the gelatin free status of the new caplets used in Adcal- D3 together with the fact that the vitamin D in the medicine was derived from a Halal source might have led to the misconception that the caplets were Halal.
The Panel noted ProStrakan’s submission that no promotional material for Adcal-D3 Caplets contained a claim about the suitability of the medicine for Halal diets and that promotion of the medicine as a Halal option was never its aim or intention. Most of the promotional material provided referred to the fact that Adcal-D3 Caplets were gelatin free; none of it referred to the medicine being suitable for those following a Halal diet. The Panel noted however that representatives’ briefing material contained the statement that ‘A key feature which will appeal to many patients is that Adcal-D3 Caplets are gelatin free, and therefore suitable for vegetarians, and patients adhering to strict halal diets’.
In the Panel’s view, although the caplets were gelatin free and the vitamin D was derived from a Halal source, Adcal-D3 Caplets as a product were not Halal. The Panel considered that the claim in the briefing document that Adcal-D3 Caplets were suitable for patients adhering to strict Halal diets was misleading and could not be substantiated. Breaches of the Code were ruled. The briefing material advocated a course of action that was likely to lead to a breach of the Code and in that regard the company had failed to maintain high standards. Further breaches of the Code were ruled. These rulings were upheld on appeal.
With regard the activity of the representative in question, the Panel noted that the parties’ accounts differed. The complainant had referred to second and third hand reports that the representative had discussed the Halal status of Adcal-D3 Caplets. No details of the discussions were provided. ProStrakan submitted that the representative had stated that he had never claimed that the caplet itself was Halal; the term Halal had been discussed but only in response to customer questions about the source of the vitamin D. However, the representatives’ briefing material stated that Adcal-D3 Caplets weresuitable for patients on a strict Halal diet and so in that regard the Panel considered that on the balance of probabilities the representative had implied that the medicine had been granted Halal status. Although the representative had used material provided by the company and followed company instructions all the relevant requirements of the Code had not been complied with. A breach of the Code was ruled.
Upon appeal, the Appeal Board noted the statement ‘A key feature which will appeal to many patients is that Adcal-D3 Caplets are gelatin free, and therefore suitable for vegetarians, and patients adhering to strict halal diets’ in the representatives’ briefing material dated August 2011. The Appeal Board noted from ProStrakan that this statement had been included to equip representatives with a means to respond to questions from health professionals; the company did not expect the representatives to use the claim promotionally. The Appeal Board considered, however, that briefing material was part of the promotional material for the product and describing something as a ‘key feature’ would have highlighted its importance as a point to note.
The Appeal Board considered that the representative who had used the briefing document to refer to the Halal status of Adcal-D3 Caplets had only been doing as instructed by ProStrakan. The Appeal Board thus ruled no breach of the Code.