Drugs body tightens up code of practice

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has unveiled new measures to clamp down on bad marketing practice and encourage greater transparency in the drugs sector.

The move comes amid heightened scrutiny of an industry tarnished in recent years by high-profile product recalls and allegations that firms have buried data on drugs' negative side effects.

Publishing details on the revision of its code of practice, effective from 1 January, ABPI president Vincent Lawton called the review 'fundamental'.

All printed promotional material must now include prominent information on reported side effects. In addition, drugs firms must make public a list of all patient organisations to which they provide financial support – and a written agreement must exist spelling out terms of the relationship. 

Some of those contravening the code will be named and shamed via adverts in medical press. 

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, which administers the code, will also hire its first dedicated PRO to spearhead a 'major campaign' in 2006 to promote the new regulations.

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