Swiss group Ferring Pharmaceuticals has breached the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s Code of Practice by issuing a letter about Glypressin Solution for Injection that included “misleading” information.

The complaint was brought by a senior hospital pharmacist who accused the company of scaremongering and misquoting from a safety alert issued by the National Patient Safety Agency in a bid to boost the product’s National Health Service sales.

The company’s letter stated that the new Glypressin Solution had, inter alia, the advantage of being “Ready to use for injection (The National Patient Safety Agency recommends that only licensed ready-to-administer or ready-to-use injectable medicines are supplied)”.

However, the complainant said this misrepresented the NPSA’s advice which, in a patient safety alert called Promoting safer use of injectable medicines, actually said it is “preferable that only licensed ready-to-administer or ready-to-use injectable medicines are procured and supplied”.

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority - the policing arm of the ABPI - agreed that Ferring’s letter was not sufficiently clear with regard to the NPSA's advice, and stressed the difference between a preference and recommendation. It concluded that the context of the NPSA statement had not been fully reflected, and so ruled breaches of the Code as the letter was “misleading and not capable of substantiation”.

This is not the first time Ferring has acted outside the bounds of the Code; earlier this year, the group admitted that a journal advertisement for its ulcerative colitis drug Penstasa (mesalamine) failed to reflect the UK approved indications for the drug.

The company explained that the ad was placed by colleagues in its global marketing unit in Switzerland, who had failed to put it through the UK approval procedure. But the Panel noted that it is an “established principle” under the Code that companies operating in the UK are responsible for the acts of their overseas affiliates, and ruled several breaches.