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PMPCA rules on multiple pharma code breaches

Published on 17/09/15 at 10:27am
ABPI

The industry's code of conduct regulator has ruled on several alleged breaches of the ABPI code of pharmaceutical conduct by pharma companies.

The Prescriptions Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMPCA) investigations looked into alleged breaches of code by companies including Merck Serono, Menarini and Stirling Anglian, and a voluntary admission by GlaxoSmithKline.

A breach was ruled in the case of a senior NHS nurse who complained about the frequency with which Merck Serono sales representatives came to see him/her, sometimes without appointment.

Merck Serono explained that it had increased the frequency of visits to a target of six visits per day in order to keep pace with rivals, and provided data on recorded visits, yet the panel found the figure to be excessive, and ruled a breach in this regard, although not for an additional allegation that a trust policy had been breached.

GlaxoSmithKline also voluntarily admitted that patient support items (demonstration devices and training whistles for the Ellipta inhaler) had been handed out at a meeting for nurses organised by a third party, contravening code clauses forbidding such items being handed out from exhibition stands.

GSK was judged to have violated clauses 6.1 and 18.2, but not clause 2, which relates to promotional materials bringing discredit on, or reducing confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry.

Galen submitted a complaint about the promotion of constipation medication CosmoCol (Macrogol 3350 plus electrolytes) by Scotland-based Stirling Anglian Pharmaceuticals, alleging that a March 2015 advertisement breached the code by giving details of pack sizes and cost and failing to include Cosmocol’s non-proprietary name or active ingredients.

The panel agreed that since the abbreviated advertisement listed the active ingredients as reflected in the Summary of Product Characteristics, breaches of Code clauses 4.3, 5.2 and 5.4 should be ruled.

Elsewhere, another code breach announced included a Menarini email overstating the impact to buyers of the increasing cost of generic allopurinol, and marketing its own Adenuric (febuxostat) as an alternative.

The judgements can all be viewed in full on the PMPCA website, as can the code.

Joel Levy

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