UNITED KINGDOM — Novo Nordisk has been suspended as a member of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) for two years due to “serious breaches” of the trade body’s code of practice, according to a statement released by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA).

The suspension was a result of a complaint made against the drugmaker regarding sponsored courses on weight management advertised on LinkedIn.

Following an investigation by the PMCPA, which upholds the ABPI’s code of practice, Novo Nordisk’s actions were found to be “likely to bring discredit on, or reduce confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry.”

Specifically, the PMCPA found that a LinkedIn post promoting Saxenda (liraglutide) was not certified as required by the ABPI code and failed to include the necessary prescribing information.

The complaint alleged that this constituted “bribing health professionals with an inducement to prescribe.”

Novo Nordisk responded to the complaint by stating that it had provided sponsorship to ensure health professionals received training from a reputable provider but had supported the activity “at arm’s length.”

Pinder Sahota, the general manager of the company’s UK operations, resigned as the ABPI’s president in February amid the ongoing investigation, having been appointed to the role in 2022.

Novo will subject to audits in 2023 and 2024, where it will need to show “clear, significant and sustained improvement” for the ABPI board to consider allowing the company to resume membership after the two-year suspension.

Despite Novo Nordisk’s explanation, the PMCPA expressed “very concerned” views in its appeals board report, stating that the company failed to recognize the large-scale Saxenda promotional campaign that it had knowingly paid for and disguised.

The appeals board further noted that Novo Nordisk’s non-compliance with the code of practice was exacerbated by its failure to recognize its own misconduct.

Susan Rienow, the ABPI’s president-elect, stated that the trade association carefully considered the PMCPA’s case before deciding to suspend Novo Nordisk.

She expressed significant concern about the company’s compliance activities and the serious issues identified.

Novo Nordisk will also be subject to further compliance audits in 2023 and 2024, in addition to the two-year suspension.

The ABPI emphasized that the audit reports must demonstrate “clear, significant and sustained improvement” to industry standards in order for the company to resume full engagement with the ABPI after the suspension.

In response to the suspension, a Novo Nordisk spokesperson expressed disappointment with the outcome but accepted the decision.

Amid the global pandemic of diabetes, wealthy nations are struggling to address the rapid rise of obesity and associated conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Novo Nordisk, a leading pharmaceutical company, has developed effective treatments for obesity, including Saxenda, an approved weight loss drug.

However, Novo has since developed an even more effective obesity treatment called Wegovy, which has generated high demand worldwide and is set to be launched in the U.K.

As the market leader in weight loss through medicinal treatment, Novo Nordisk’s innovative solutions offer hope for individuals struggling with obesity and its related health complications.

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