Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) has been publicly carpeted for ‘entertaining health professionals and spouses at a meeting with no clear educational content in an unsuitable venue'.
The ABPI's Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority placed adverts in the British Medical Journal and the Pharmaceutical Journal last week to ‘admonish' MSD in line with the industry's tighter code of practice that came into force on 1 January. It is the first time this sanction has been deployed.
The reprimand resulted from an MSD rep's decision to entertain a group of GPs and wives in the public part of a Chinese restaurant. MSD refuted any suggestion there was no medical educational content at the event but conceded its public nature was inappropriate. An MSD spokesperson told PRWeek: ‘The arrangements for the meeting were clearly in breach of the code. An internal investigation was undertaken and appropriate action taken.'
The company added: ‘MSD has revised its procedures for meetings and hospitality for reps. These new procedures were implemented before this case was concluded to ensure absolute understanding of thecompany's expectations in this area.'
PMCPA director Heather Simmonds said: ‘All breaches of the Code of Practice are taken very seriously.
However, under the new procedure it was agreed that particularly serious breaches should be the subject of ads in the medical and pharmaceutical press.'