Opinions of lawyers dealing with pharmaceutical industry on Internet promotion

On September 17, the largest online event for the pharmaceutical business in 2020 took place – UKRAINIAN Pharma & Digital FORUM.

Mykola Orlov, managing partner of OMP, spoke about the prospects of Internet promotion for the industry.

Namely, the events of the last “quarantine” year have shown that the AMCU carefully examines all promo texts, regardless of the method of their transmission, including the Internet. At the same time, the legal restrictions on the advertising of medicines are applied by the regulator to online publications in full.

It is important to point out the following approaches of the AMCU:

  • Texts on the Internet can be recognized as advertising ones on a par with texts in other media;
  • the same legal requirements apply to these texts;
  • at the same time, the AMCU is critical of restrictions on access to information (in particular, to warning banners or confirmation buttons);
  • The AMCU is even more critical of the promises and advances on drug efficacy, particularly in the context of Coronavirus.

“Grey zone” of Internet promotion

Despite the INCREASED ATTENTION to the Internet promotion of medicines by regulators, certain aspects of such promotion still remain in the “grey zone” of Ukrainian legislation:

  • the boundaries between information disseminated at the point of sale and advertising
  • the boundary between information disseminated among healthcare professionals and advertising
  • the boundary between information provided at the request of the consumer and advertising

We still do not have a clear position of the regulators to distinguish between these types of information. SO each party – business and government – interprets the grey area in their favor…

Offshore information

In addition to the gray area, the Internet allows you to place information in “offshore” or “anonymously”:

  • responsibility for information posted on websites outside Ukraine
  • responsibility for information disseminated by a non-identified source
  • responsibility for information disseminated through online channels

Here the question arises of whether such information is regulated by Ukrainian law and who will be responsible for it.…

Interaction with doctors 2020

For the past three years, public authorities have been studying the interaction of industry with doctors…

At least four criminal cases are already known, which concern many aspects of this interaction and concern a wide range of market participants.

Nowadays, at least two groups of risks have been identified – tax and anti-corruption:

  • how to select doctors for cooperation
  • how to pay taxes on “benefits” distributed to doctors

If online area allows you to at least partially legalize the interaction between industry and the doctor, then taxes must be paid without exception!

Challenges for the future

Given the development trends of regulators and the practice of regulators, we see additional issues / risks that the pharmaceutical industry and the medical community will face:

  1. Objective restrictions on the physical interaction of representatives of pharmaceutical industry (due to quarantine, due to the increase of commercialization of medicine, due to increase of doctors` responsibility)
  2. Increased attention to the nature and form of benefits received by doctors
  3. Study of the relationship “doctors-pharmacies” and “doctors-pharma”
  4. Further (including retrospective) study of texts distributed by the pharmaceutical industry to the general public.

Online trade of medicines – today and tomorrow

Today there is an interesting situation with online trade of medicines, in particular with their delivery:

  • if the law is passed, the delivery of medicines will be legalized in one form or another (maybe not all medicines, maybe by not all) – at least a few big players will appear (Nova Poshta, Ukrposhta);
  • if the law is buried, it could create a basis for tightening the adjusting screws even on those delivery schemes that worked before quarantine.