Pharma companies break Sweden’s ad rules

Many pharmaceutical companies are publishing adverts that contravene Sweden's strict rules on the marketing of drugs. The industry's own lobbying organisation now wants stricter penalties for breaking the rules.

Last year, 27 companies were convicted for a total of 62 counts of breaking advertising rules, according to Dagens Nyheter. The companies were fined a total of 4.9 billion kronor.

In 18 cases, the industry’s own tribunal fined companies the maximum penalty of 100,000 kronor. The number of serious cases has doubled since 2005.

Richard Bergström, head of the Swedish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry, said it was clear that the current maximum fines were not a sufficient deterrent. He told Dagens Nyheter that lawyers had been asked to look at ways of making the sanctions more effective.

The worst offender among the pharma companies was Novartis, which last year was fined seven times, paying a total of 790,000 kronor.

Novartis’ head of marketing, Stefan Mårtensson, told the paper that the breaches were down to failures in internal procedures, which he said had now been rectified.