Photo: Courtesy of Novonordisk.com
23 January 2014Big Pharma

Novo Nordisk leaves alliance over PR campaign

Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk has left a group of pharmaceutical companies that are unhappy with proposed drug laws in South Africa.

The withdrawal follows leaked plans, allegedly back by the group, to use newspaper editorials to protest against legislation that could favour generic drugs.

Called the Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry Association South Africa (IPASA), the group has said it did not authorise the PR campaign, which was leaked to a number of newspapers.

Novo Nordisk has now left the group, according to a statement given to WIPR on January 23.

“Novo Nordisk resigned from IPASA last week [due] to disagreement on a public relations campaign proposed by IPASA, which we felt did not serve our or the industry’s interests," spokeswoman Mike Rulis said.

The leaked documents revealed that the PR campaign would cost more than R6 million ($400,000) and would be managed by Public Affairs Engagement, a company based in the US.

IPASA said the US company submitted a proposal for a PR campaign but that the bid was reviewed and subsequently rejected by IPASA members, and that no payment was made to PAE.

Among the draft law’s provisions, released by the Department for Trade and Industry, is a proposed tiered patent system in which pre-grant opposition procedures for pharmaceutical patents would be introduced.

Health campaign groups including Medecins Sans Frontieres say that the reforms could help to boost the production of cheaper generic medicines and reduce the dominance of major pharmaceutical players.

Following Novo Nordisk’s withdrawal from IPASA, the group’s spokesman Val Beaumont told  Business Day, a South African daily newspaper, that she will meet Novo Nordisk’s chief executive next week “to get an understanding of their position”.

“Our hope would be that we do not lose a valued and respected member,” she added, before declining to comment on the membership status of other companies belonging to IPASA.

Amgen, Merck and Pfizer are all members of IPASA.

Beaumont did not respond to WIPR’s request for comment.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at atapping@newtonmedia.co.uk