Boehringer’s beer breach at German congress
A complaint made by a pulmonologist against the competence of Boehringer Ingelheim speakers during a congress held in Germany last year led to a breach of the ABPI Code of Practice.
Flouting Clause 9.1 as noted by a PMCPA panel which is the ruling arm of the ABPI, the objection states that during a scientific symposium organised by the German-based firm at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Congress in Munich, lederhosen-sporting lecturers drank beer on stage.
The seminar was on new evidence from Phase III clinical trials concerning poorly-diagnosed idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) disease, which typically affects male former smokers. The complainant suggested that for a serious, fatal condition, the scene was simply not appropriate.
Two of the speakers involved were from the UK, so in Boehringer’s response to the complaint it stated that the Code did not apply in this case, due to the event being organised and run by the firm’s German division.
It added that Boehringer UK’s involvement was restricted only to the approval of the level of honoraria, subsistence and hospitality offered to the lecturers from the UK.
The Panel considered that the participation of UK speakers meant that the company was responsible under the Code for their part in the seminars, plus the impression created by them.
Clause 9.1 requires that high standards must be maintained at all times. The ruling and regulatory industry arm of the ABPI concluded that the overall impression given was unacceptable.
Boehringer identified the health professionals in question from a photograph which was provided to the panel. The firm was attending the congress to raise awareness of its European Commission-approved treatment for IPF, Ofev.
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