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Bayer slammed for ‘nightcaps’

Published on 26/09/13 at 11:01am
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Bayer has come under fire from the PMCPA for providing late-night drinks to delegates at a conference in Amsterdam, exceeding the restrictions on hospitality in the ABPI Code of Practice.

An anonymous, non-contactable health professional complained about Bayer buying ‘nightcaps’ for delegates at the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis Congress (ISTH) this year.

The allegation was that a senior Bayer staff member had entertained two health professionals in a hotel bar “during the early hours of the morning and it looked as though significant amounts of alcohol had been consumed”.

Bayer countered this by saying that three UK health professionals were invited to Bayer’s Haemophilia Awards Programme dinner during ISTH on 1 July and were escorted by a senior, female Bayer UK employee. 

At around 11.30pm, the guests walked her back to her hotel and asked the doorman there to ring for a taxi to take them to their own hotel.

He said that a cab “would take some time to arrive” so they waited in the hotel bar, where four drinks were bought, just before midnight, at a total cost of £28.15. 

To back this up, the company submitted a hotel bar bill (which was not itemised) for €114.50 for food and drink purchased there during the day.

Buying alcoholic drinks would have breached Bayer’s own rules - which state that only ‘reasonable amounts’ of soft drinks, water, coffee or tea can be provided after a meal - but it was not possible for the panel to say what had been consumed because Bayer did not provide details.

However, the PMCPA thought the beverages ‘were likely to be alcoholic’ and ruled a breach of clause 19.1 of the Code, which deals with subsistence.

While this is not in the same league as Roche’s PMCPA rap earlier this year for providing ‘vodka shots…[which] flowed like hot lava’ to delegates, it is still embarrassing for Bayer. 

Since the complainant had not specified the name of the hotel or the date of the alleged incident, the panel could not confirm that the subject of the complaint was the incident referred to by Bayer.    

But the manufacturer was reminded that “it was important for a company to be mindful of the impression created by its activities…especially so in relation to the provision of drinks late at night in a public bar irrespective of the circumstances”. 

However, due to what the panel called the ‘exceptional circumstances’ of the case, there was no breach of clause 9.1, which states that “high standards must be maintained at all times”.

Bayer did not appeal and the PMCPA verdict will be published in the November 2013 Review.

Adam Hill   

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