Dear Editor

Recently the UK pharmaceutical watchdog Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) ruled that a tweet and subsequent retweets made by Pzifer employees in February 2023, breached standards and had ‘misleadingly’ and ‘illegally’ promoted its Covid-19 vaccine. Which was then still in phase 3 trials. 

The ruling totalled five breaches, which included: 

  1. Bringing discredit upon, and reducing confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry. 
  2. Promoting an unlicenced product. 
  3. Making a misleading claim. 
  4. Making claims that did not reflect the available evidence regarding possible adverse reactions. 
  5. Failing to maintain high standards. 

Since the ruling, a Pfizer UK spokesman has said that the company “fully recognises and accepts the issues highlighted by this PMCPA ruling”, and that they are “deeply sorry”. 

Pfizer’s misleading behaviour during this time had a detrimental impact on the information available to the public and to media reporting on the vaccine. I would therefore expect the media to be decrying this situation. 

It seems to me that not only has Pfizer brought discredit upon, and reduced confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry but that this has also had a knock-on effect on the media. 

We have witnessed a precipitous drop in trust in the media in New Zealand from 53% in 2020 to 33% in 2024. Just this week it has been confirmed 250 jobs are to be lost from Newshub.  

The simple truth is that Pfizer misled us all, and the New Zealand public and media have suffered losses because of this. Pfizer cares little or nothing for New Zealand. It would be good for public trust in the media and the pharmaceutical industry for these misleading and illegal statements to be widely publicised.  

Maybe then we can take the first steps to repair the damage. 

Doug H

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