UK trade group suspends Novo Nordisk

March 16, 2023

Novo Nordisk has been suspended from a UK pharmaceutical trade association following "serious breaches" of the group's code of practice.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has suspended the Danish drugmaker for two years following an extensive investigation and appeals process conducted by the self-regulatory body that administers the association's code of practice, the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA). The PMCPA found Novo in breach of the ABPI code, specifically the clause that deals with actions “likely to bring discredit on, or reduce confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry.”

The violation surrounds concerns about sponsored courses offered on LinkedIn. The complaint alleges that Novo Nordisk knowingly paid for a large-scale promotional campaign for its anti-diabetic and weight loss medication, Saxenda, and then disguised it as a free weight management course.

ABPI — which has over 120 research-based biopharma companies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as members — says this is the eighth occasion in the past 40 years that the board has issued such a significant sanction. 

Going forward, PMCPA plans to undertake further audits of Novo Nordisk’s compliance in late 2023 and 2024. According to ABPI, in order for the board to consider allowing the drugmaker to resume engagement at the end of the suspension, the audit reports will need to "show clear, significant, and then sustained improvement to industry standards."