MSD Animal Health UK found in breach of the NOAH Code of Practice for the Promotion of Animal Medicines

The NOAH Code of Practice on the Promotion of Animal Medicines Committee, chaired by Guy Tritton, met on the 11th and 14th of December 2020, to hear Case 302/12/20.

This case was brought by Boehringer Ingelheim against MSD Animal Health UK regarding promotional material for MSD’s product Bravecto.

The case focussed on 2 items of complaint:

  1. An allegation that MSD failed to provide evidence to substantiate the claims of increased owner compliance with Bravecto made in the promotional materials within 5 working days.
  2. MSD promotional claims of increased owner compliance with Bravecto based on data which is purchase data and MSD promotional claims of increased owner compliance with Bravecto based on flawed data comparing Bravecto with monthly isoxazolines and parasiticides.

After extensive, in depth discussions, the Committee ruled as follows:

Item 1

The Committee was of the view that the requirement within the clause to provide “…information or data to substantiate…” meant that enough data should be available to enable the requesting party to verify and check the data that has been referred to and relied upon in the promotion. The Committee commended MSD for the promptness of their replies to requests from Boehringer Ingelheim but found that MSD had nevertheless breached Clause 5.1 of the NOAH Code of Practice.

Item 2

The Committee found that “owner compliance” meant whether or not a parasiticide had been administered to an animal as prescribed. Having made this finding, the Committee held that whilst purchase data showing how many months of protection of a parasiticide that a dog or cat owner had bought (following prescription) in a year may be a reasonable indicator of whether or not a dog or cat owner does administer a product, it is no more than that. Furthermore, the Committee found that the analysis of purchase data for dog owners was flawed.

Therefore, the Committee unanimously found that MSD had breached Clauses 4.3(i) 4.3(iii), 4.4(ii), and 4.4(iii) of the NOAH Code of Practice.

As a result, the Chair, Guy Tritton required MSD Animal Health UK to provide a formal Undertaking to:

  1. a) Provide within 5 working days of receipt of a written request any information or data to substantiate any claim in that Promotion
  2. b) Not to market or promote marketing material which claims that owner compliance of dog or cat owners who are prescribed Bravecto is higher than for those prescribed monthly isoxazolines or other monthly parasiticides.

Notes for Editors

  1. For further information on NOAH contact Dawn Howard at NOAH, tel. +44 (0)20 8367 3131, or visit the code section of the NOAH website.

  2. NOAH represents the UK animal health industry. Its aim is to promote the benefits of safe, effective, quality products and services for the health and welfare of all animals.

  3. More details of Case 302 are available here https://www.noah.co.uk/focus-areas/promotion-of-animal-medicines/cases/2020-cases/