Advertising of pharmaceuticals, case II GSK 461/09

March 14th, 2010, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Main Pharmaceutical Inspector (MPI) found that Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning (in Polish: Federacja na rzecz Kobiet i Planowania Rodziny) is publishing the names of contraceptives on its Internet website, and therefore the Federation advertises these products. The MPI ordered the immediate cessation of such actions because it may encourages the use and prescription of such medical preparations and public advertisement of medicinal products as contraceptives, that are issued only on prescription, is prohibited by provisions of article 52(1) of the The Polish Act on Pharmaceutical Law – PHL – (in Polish: ustawa prawo famraceutyczne) of 6 September 2001, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2008, No 45, item 271, with later amendments.

Advertising a medicinal product shall mean any activity consisting in informing about and encouraging to use the medicinal product

The Federation filed a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court (VAC) in Warsaw. The VAC in a judgment of 3 March 2009, case file VII SA/Wa 2108/08, has overturned the decision of the MPI, but only because the incomplete material was submitted. The VAC agreed that MPI’s decision was justified with regard to cessation of public advertisement of contraceptives. The Federation filed a cassation complaint.

The Supreme Administrative Cort (SAC) in a judgment of 10 March 2010, case file II GSK 461/09, ruled that the provisions of article 52 are legible and obvious, but they must relate to the circumstances of a particular case and to all reasons of actions taken in order to inform about the medicinal product. According to the SAC these circumstances were not considered and the VAC also omitted the statutory objectives of the Federation. The major role of the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning is to inform of the various methods of family planning. Publishing the name of contraceptives, cannot be treated as an encouragement for its use. The information does not come from the responsible entity, and the publication of characteristics of medicinal products is not considered as advertising. If the order issued by the MPI was sustained, such information could not be published at all.

Therefore, the SAC annulled the questioned judgments of the Voivodeship Administrative Court and returned the case to the VAC for reconsideration.

See also “Polish regulations on pharmaceutical trade marks” and “Polish case law on advertising of pharmaceuticals“.