AUTH/3223/7/19 - Voluntary admission by Boehringer Ingelheim

More than two pages bearing advertising

  • Received
    12 July 2019
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    19 December 2019
  • Breach Clause(s)
  • Sanctions applied
    Undertaking received
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal
  • Review
    To be published in the Code of Practice Review

Case Summary

Boehringer Ingelheim Limited voluntarily admitted that the June 2019 issue of MIMS bore advertising for Spiolto Respimat (tiotropium and olodaterol) on more than two pages – a whole page advertisement and a double-sided bookmark. Spiolto Respimat was indicated as a maintenance bronchodilator treatment to relieve symptoms in adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

As Paragraph 5.6 of the Constitution and Procedure required the Director to treat a voluntary admission as a complaint, the matter was taken up with Boehringer Ingelheim.

The detailed response from Boehringer Ingelheim is given below.

The Panel noted that the Code required that no issue of a print journal may bear advertising for a particular product on more than two pages. The supplementary information, Limitations on Number of Pages of Print Advertising, stated, inter alia, that advertisements in the form of inserts, whether loose or bound in, counted towards the two pages allowed and that an insert printed on both sides counted as two pages.

The Panel noted Boehringer Ingelheim’s submission that although the placement of the advertisement had been planned since December 2018, the bookmark was only commissioned in May 2019 and that both the advertisement and bookmark were certified in May 2019, within 2 days of each other, as standalone items for use in MIMS; however, there was no alert to the certifier that these would appear in the same edition of MIMS. The Panel noted that there did not appear to be any journal publication schedule provided to the certifier in the copy approval system and, in its view, there appeared to be a general lack of company oversight in this regard.

The June 2019 edition of MIMS bore advertising for Spiolto Respimat on three pages. A breach of the Code was ruled.