AUTH/3463/1/21 - Complainant v Lundbeck

Lundbeck website

  • Received
    25 January 2021
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    27 September 2021
  • No breach Clause(s)
  • Breach Clause(s)
  • Sanctions applied
    Undertaking received
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal

Case Summary

An anonymous contactable complainant, who described him/herself as a health professional, complained about the home page/research and development (R&D) page of Lundbeck Limited’s corporate website .

The complainant noted that the home page incorporated a video on mental health and it was more than 2 years since the webpage was last approved.

On the same page, there was a Research and Development tab which stated that Lundbeck’s R&D efforts were dedicated to creating new and innovative pharmaceuticals for the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders and a tab to read more. The complainant alleged that it was not appropriate information for the public or patients; referring to statements such as: ‘Lundbeck is devoted to the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders’ and ‘We dedicate our entire R&D efforts to develop innovative drugs for treatment of a number of psychiatric and neurological disorders’. Following a pipeline tab led to a page showing medicines Lundbeck had in development along with indications. Another tab labelled ‘products’ listed Lundbeck products (brand and generic names) alongside the indications for each.

The complainant alleged that it was inappropriate for Lundbeck UK to direct readers onto a global site where information on products and pipeline was readily available. On the Lundbeck UK site there was no warning to prevent either health professionals, patients or members of the public transferring to the global page from the UK R&D page. The complainant alleged that Lundbeck was responsible for the content to which it directed readers and alleged breaches of the Code including with regard to the promotion of pipeline products to the public, patients and health professionals. Members of the public would speak to their health professional about those prescription only medicines and adverse event reporting for patients was not provided and the page was not approved for patients or members of the public. The complainant alleged that medicines had been promoted to health professionals without the provision of prescribing information or adverse event reporting. The complainant alleged that promotional content had not been approved for a UK audience and it was disguised promotion as the UK R&D page directed to a webpage where information on pipeline and products was available without prior warning on the UK page.

The detailed response from Lundbeck is given below.

The Panel noted Lundbeck’s submission that whilst both the homepage of the Lundbeck UK website and the video were certified under the Code in December 2018 and therefore the Panel ruled no breach of the Code.

The Panel noted Lundbeck’s submission that whilst material which required examination did not need to be re-certified, the entire website was certified as one job bag and certain content which was live on the website did require re-certification. The Panel noted that at the time of the complaint, more than two years had lapsed since the website had been certified and the Panel therefore ruled a breach of the Code as acknowledged by Lundbeck.

The Panel did not consider that the complainant had established that the information on the research and development page was inappropriate as alleged, and therefore ruled no breach of the Code in that regard.

The Panel noted that near the bottom of the Lundbeck UK research and development webpage was a link to find more information about Lundbeck’s publications which took visitors to a webpage on the Lundbeck global website. The Panel noted that the top of the webpage which the user was taken to stated ‘GLOBAL’ and was titled ‘Disclosure of clinical trial information’; it detailed the company’s policy for scientific publications and clinical trial data sharing.

The Panel noted Lundbeck’s submission that a user would have to navigate the global website in order to find the information on products and pipeline; visitors were not taken directly from the UK research and development page to the separate global pipeline and products pages. The Panel further noted Lundbeck’s submission that the Lundbeck UK website was approved with a ‘pop-up’ informing the reader that they were being redirected to a non-UK website for which Lundbeck UK had no responsibility and every page of the global website stated “GLOBAL” at the top.

The Panel noted that the complainant bore the burden of proof and did not consider that he/she had established that the link from the research and development webpage on the Lundbeck UK website to the disclosure of clinical trial information on the global website was inappropriate as alleged. Nor did the Panel consider that there was evidence that directing readers from the research and development webpage on the Lundbeck UK website to the disclosure of clinical trial information on the global website constituted disguised promotion as alleged. The Panel therefore ruled no breaches of the Code, including no breach of Clause 2, in relation to the allegations about pipeline and product information.