Letters - Pharma code is not totally restrictive

Contrary to Karen Winterhalter's comments, the ABPI Code does not prevent pharmaceuticals from engaging with patients online (Analysis, 9 November).

The code allows the industry to publish 'accurate, balanced and fair' information about their products as long as it does not amount to promotion of a prescription-only medicine to the public, which is banned by UK law.

Companies can make available through their website a large body of reference information, can answer specific enquiries from the public about their products, and can engage with the public via disease-awareness campaigns. Additionally, the code does not prevent companies from monitoring sites or forums.

Companies should, however, exercise caution when sponsoring or hosting a blog as they remain responsible for ensuring that all content is code-compliant.

The content of the code is agreed and voted on by the industry, and is reviewed every two to three years. Suggestions for revisions are always welcome.

Niamh MacMahon, communications manager, Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority.

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