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Case study 1

AUTH/3563/9/21 and Case AUTH/3564/9/21 – Complainant v Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.

Concerns about the promotion of Eliquis (Apixaban) on the Eliquis website

Case Summary

A contactable complainant who described him/herself as a health professional complained about the promotion of Eliquis (apixaban) on the Eliquis website where he/she selected the ‘I am a HCP’ tab on the landing page and went to the health professional section. The complainant was concerned with the messaging ‘choose eliquis’ at the top of every page and alleged that this bold statement should not be there. Each patient was individual and thus Eliquis might not be suited for that patient or they might not even be eligible and other competitor medicines might be better suited. In addition, the website did not include the necessary adverse event reporting wording.


The detailed response from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer is given below.

The Panel considered that the headline ‘Choose Eliquis’ might not necessarily be inappropriate. Clearly not every patient would be suitable for every medicine. Health professionals would use their professional judgement based on a number of factors and for certain patients it might be appropriate to choose Eliquis. The Panel did not consider that the complainant had established, on the balance of probabilities, that ‘Choose Eliquis’ as a headline banner on the promotional website in question was misleading or would not encourage the rational use of the medicine. The Panel therefore ruled no breaches of the 2021 Code.


The Panel noted the requirements of the Code that all promotional material must include the prominent adverse event reporting statement. The Panel noted that whilst the adverse event reporting statement which used wording in line with the Code appeared on the landing page, which was a gateway to both promotional and non-promotional websites, and whilst there was a link to the statement within the promotional website for health professionals, the statement was not included within the body of the promotional website and therefore the Panel ruled a breach of the 2021 Code in this regard.


The Panel did not consider that in relation to the allegations overall, the companies had failed to maintain high standards and therefore ruled no breach of the 2021 Code.


Read the full case study 1 here