Penalty payment for medical marketing to be paid
The National Food Agency, in the summer of 2003, required Polar Pharma Oy to change the labelling on the packaging for a product by the name of Antivir and other information given in conjunction with the marketing in order to comply with food regulations in such a way that they do not state that the product has properties connected with the prevention, care or cure of illnesses in humans and that no references are made to such information. In addition, the company was prohibited from continuing or renewing the marketing containing the above mentioned medical assertions. As a sanction for the marketing ban the National Food Agency set a penalty payment of 50,000 euros.
Despite the marketing ban that had been imposed by the National Food Agency the company continued marketing the product on their Internet pages. According to the National Food Agency there was no legitimate reason not to comply with the ban, and consequently the agency required in November 2005 that the penalty payment be paid. Polar Pharma Oy appealed the agency’s decision to the Administrative Court of Helsinki, which subsequently dismissed the appeal. When marketing the product there had still been referrals to prevention of illnesses in contravention of the Food Act, which is why the Administrative Court deemed that the company had not fulfilled the obligations that had been required of it in the prohibition decision. No valid reason for not fulfilling the obligation had been presented either.
The company appealed the decision by the Administrative Court of Helsinki to the Supreme Administrative Court, which dismissed the appeal by its decision on 12.11.2007. The decision by the National Food Agency to impose a penalty payment has therefore gained legal force and the company is bound to pay the ordered amount.
When marketing food it is prohibited to use medical assertions or assertions that claim that the products are connected with the prevention, care or cure of illnesses in humans or to make references to such information. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira can prohibit medical marketing and sanction the ban using a penalty payment.
For additional information, please contact:
Lawyer Kirsi Hannula, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24325
Head of Unit Auli Suojanen tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24280