The Medicines Australia Code of Conduct guides the promotion of prescription products by pharmaceutical companies.1 Each year Medicines Australia publishes a report, from its Code of Conduct Committee, which details all the complaints that have been received about advertising and other promotional activities.

In 2019–20 the Code of Conduct Committee finalised five complaints (see Table). These were dealt with under the 18th edition of the Code of Conduct.1 The current 19th edition was introduced in March 2020.2

Four of the five complaints were made by pharmaceutical companies. Two of them involved rival companies complaining about their competitor’s influenza vaccine. The one complaint from a health professional related to being featured in a video. While the health professional had been paid for assisting in the production, they had not given written consent for the release of the video.

In four cases there was an appeal against the decisions of the Code of Conduct Committee. One of the appeals was by a company which had made a successful complaint. This appeal resulted in a doubling of the fine that had been imposed as a sanction.

More details about the complaints can be found in the full report on the website of Medicines Australia.3

Table - Breaches of the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct July 2019 – June 2020


Brand (generic) name

Material or activity



Fluzone High-Dose (influenza vaccine)

Product-specific consumer media release

$100,000 fine

Claims not to be used again


Fluad (influenza vaccine)

Promotional material

$40,000 fine increased to $80,000 on appeal. Corrective letter to health professionals


Xeljanz (tofacitinib citrate)

Promotional banner at trade display

$25,000 fine

Materials not to be used again


Xarelto (rivaroxaban)

Promotional material

$150,000 fine

Clinical Paper Carrier not to be used again

Corrective letter to health professionals

Eli Lilly

Taltz (ixekizumab)

Professional conduct

$15,000 fine


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