B-M cash gaffe: drugs client faces sanction

A top drugs company is to be named and shamed for 'bringing discredit upon, and reducing confidence in' the pharma industry following a Burson-Marsteller blunder.

The action will be taken against Janssen-Cilag, part of Johnson & Johnson, by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority.

J-C was hauled before the PMCPA following a 9 June PRWeek story headlined ­‘B-M in NICE apology for media cash carrot' (See Related Stories).

The story was triggered by a B-M email offering­ ­journalists £200 to attend a NICE appeal hearing.

B-M at the time told PRWeek the offer was a ‘total breach of policy' and down to ‘human error'. It said: ‘It was not something the client knew about, and was a mistake by an individual. It shouldn't have happened. The client is supportive.'

But the PMCPA says J-C breached Clause 2 of the pharma industry's Code of Practice. It will be named and shamed in pharma trade journal ads - only the second time such action has been taken.

The PMCPA said J-C ‘had not actively managed its PR agency or taken all reasonable steps to ensure its agent did not breach the code', and that the company was - despite being unaware - responsible for B-M's action.

In a statement to PRWeek, J-C said: ‘Janssen-Cilag accepts the ruling of the [PMCPA] appeal board.

‘As a result of this, Janssen-Cilag is taking steps to ensure all suppliers, including PR agencies, are aware of their obligations under the ABPI's Code of Practice.'

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