Claims made in letter
Complaints were made by Convatec Ltd against Johnson & Johnson Medical Ltd in respect of a letter entitled “Barrier Properties of Wound Dressings Under the Spotlight.”
The Committee considered that references to an unpublished paper being rejected for publication was in breach of Clause 3.4 in that the paper had not been rejected but had been returned for points of clarification.
The statement in the letter was considered to be misleading, inaccurate and unfair, nor was it considered ethical to reference an unpublished paper not in the public domain.
Statements in the letter were not supported or referenced.
The Committee noted that Johnson & Johnson Medical Ltd had since revised the letter, removing the statement that the paper had been rejected for publication and included references where supporting evidence to their claims could be found. However, the revised letter stated that the paper had been widely criticized. This statement was unsupported and as the paper was not published until the September 2000 edition of the Journal of Wound Care, it was concluded that this statement was misleading and therefore in breach of clause 3.4.
It was also noted that during correspondence between the two companies on this issue, Johnson & Johnson Medical Ltd had on one occasion not complied with the timescale required by clause 3.4.
In consequence of these findings, the complaint that the author of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Ltd letters had acted unethically and was in breach of clause 3.3(i) was upheld.
The complaint that the author of the letters intended to discredit ConvaTec Ltd or their products was rejected in that neither company or product were named in either letter.
The complaint relating to breach of confidentiality between author and publisher was rejected on the grounds that it was outside the scope of the SDMA Code of Practice.
Complaint adjudicated on 28 November 2000