Balking at marketing slapdown, Galderma declares itself pharma non grata

What's a drugmaker hauled up for marketing violations to do? If you're Galderma, you declare yourself exempt from the rules.

The dermatology specialist found itself on the wrong side of the U.K.'s marketing watchdog after a nurse blew the whistle on a suspect informational meeting. According to Pharmafile, one nurse said he was required to buy two boxes of a Galderma wrinkle filler, Emervel, to be admitted to a meeting about the company's Botox competitor Azzalure and its topical anesthetic for dermatology procedures Pliaglis.

The cost of those two boxes was about £150. What's worse, however--at least according to the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PCMPA)--is that attendees were promised free products for coming to the meeting.

In an email cited by PMCPA, and quoted by Pharmafile, 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."

So, in other words, attendees had to "buy" their tickets to the meeting by ordering a particular injection. And then, they recouped the cost--and more--by gaining free products. To the PMCPA's mind, attendees were essentially paid £90 to listen to promotional talks about the Galderma products--and paying healthcare professionals to attend such meetings is "unacceptable."

Indeed. PCMPA was rather indignant about the whole thing, so much so that it didn't stop at slapping Galderma for its various violations. It suggested that Galderma might not be taking this whole police-your-marketing idea seriously. The watchdog group called for a public reprimand--and an audit of Galderma's marketing procedures, stat. Once the audit results were in, the PMCPA would decide on consequences.

The PMCPA is an arm of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, and its members agree to abide by the marketing code. Some non-members have also pledged fealty to that code. Galderma was one of them.

But Galderma didn't like the idea of a reprimand--or an audit. It said it wouldn't allow the audit. And then the skin products company simply bowed out of PMCPA altogether. According to Pharmafile, the company told the group it "no longer accepted the jurisdiction of the PMCPA." No enforcement, no code, no more problems.

- get the Pharmafile story

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