Oy Suomen Apteekkiyhtiöt Ab has marketed nutritional supplements and vitamin products classified as foodstuffs to consumers over the telephone for at least two years. The company has used the marketing name Suomen Apteekki (Finnish Pharmacy) in its telemarketing. The Consumer Ombudsman found that the company used the word pharmacy in a way that misled consumers who incorrectly assumed that the marketing was conducted by a pharmacy with a pharmacy license. A conditional fine of EUR 100,000 was issued in order to enforce the injunction.
In 2016, the Consumer Ombudsman ordered Suomen Apteekkiyhtiöt to stop using the marketing name containing the word pharmacy and to otherwise stop using the word pharmacy in its marketing in a way that could mislead consumers and is in breach of Section 2 of the Consumer Protection Act. Suomen Apteekkiyhtiöt stated that it will not follow the Consumer Ombudsman’s order and rejected the Consumer Ombudsman’s view that the company’s marketing is in breach of the Consumer Protection Act. Because the company did not give the commitment requested by the Consumer Ombudsman, the Consumer Ombudsman referred the matter to be heard by the Market Court in October 2017.
The company accepted the injunction, the Market Court application has been withdrawn
In preparing for the Market Court hearing in October 2017, the Consumer Ombudsman specified that the injunction demand applies to telemarketing. After this statement, Suomen Apteekkiyhtiöt announced that it would accept the injunction after all. The Consumer Ombudsman forbade Suomen Apteekkiyhtiöt from misleading consumers in its future telemarketing by using the names Suomen Apteekki, Suomen Apteekkiyhtiöt or other names containing the word pharmacy to refer to the company, unless the customer is informed in an unambiguous and clearly understandable and discernible manner, during the marketing call, that the marketing is not being done by or for a company with a valid pharmacy license.
The Consumer Ombudsman withdrew the Market Court application on 6 November 2017. If, despite the injunction, Oy Suomen Apteekkiyhtiöt Ab continues to act illegally, an order to pay a conditional fine of EUR 100,000 may be request from the Market Court.
The primary objective of the Consumer Ombudsman is to make the company acting in breach of the law stop doing so, or to persuade it to change its actions voluntarily. If necessary, the Consumer Ombudsman takes any coercive measures required in the case, or refers the matter to be heard by a court of law. In practice, an injunction enforced with a penalty payment is issued in such situations. A decision on the injunction is made by the Market Court, based on an application submitted by the Consumer Ombudsman. The Consumer Ombudsman may also impose injunctions directly in cases deemed to be of lesser significance in terms of the application of the law or otherwise.
Kuluttaja-asiamies vei Oy Suomen Apteekkiyhtiöt Ab:n markkinaoikeuteen harhaanjohtavasta markkinoinnista, FCCA´s press release 24.3.2017.