ABPI to oppose strictest measures in pan-European code of practice

pharmafile | March 3, 2005 | News story | Sales and Marketing  

A pan-European code of practice is being drawn up by the pharmaceutical industry organisation EFPIA in response to continuing criticism of the sector's promotional practices, and currently includes a measure which would ban companies from taking doctors on trips abroad.

The Brussels-based organisation has based the new code on the UK industry's long-standing Code of Practice and hopes to have its principles agreed by all national industry bodies by the end of the year. Consensus across all the national pharmaceutical industry bodies may be hard to achieve, despite the sense of urgency in attempting to restore pharma battered image.

ABPI president and managing director of Merck Sharp & Dohme UK Vincent Lawton said the UK industry fully endorsed the initiative but said the ABPI wanted to have the ban on industry sponsorship of educational trips dropped from the final draft.

The industry is keen to distance itself from allegations of sleaze and paying for doctors to go on junkets, but the UK industry believes this picture no longer reflects actual practice, which it says is ethical and provides a vital service in keeping leading physicians up to date on the latest developments in their field.

Lawton revealed these latest developments in a speech to a European pharmaceutical audience at the EyeforPharma Sales Force Effectiveness conference in Paris.

He said the industry had to reinforce its existing self-regulation, and said this was under direct threat in the UK, where the Health Select Committee may recommend the self-policing system to be scrapped.

Hinting that the companies needed to reassess their approach to sales and marketing practices, and look to the long-term reputation of the industry he said: "The competition must be who is the most ethical, not who can get closest to the line."

The UK's MHRA recently announced that it will take a tougher line on companies which break promotional rules, and that it would pre-vet communications materials from companies which are found in repeated breach of rules.

Investigations into industry practices and relationships with the medical profession are also currently ongoing in the US and France.



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