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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 16:09 GMT
Crackdown on drug firm promotion
Image of drugs
Ways to report side effects must appear on all promotional material
Drug firms will no longer be able to court doctors with prizes and lavish venues, following an overhaul of the industry's code of practice.

Companies must only offer economy air travel to delegates sponsored to attend meetings, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry adds.

The first changes to the industry's code in a decade also focus on patient safety and process complaints faster.

Companies that breach the code can be named and shamed, the ABPI said.

The new code comes into effect on January 1, 2006.

It bans the use of promotional competitions and quizzes.

As far as meetings and seminars are concerned, subsistence - food and accommodation - must be strictly limited to what is essential for people to attend the event.

And companies should avoid using venues renowned for entertainment facilities, it says.

Firms must make public a list of all patient organisations to which they provide financial support, and prominent information about how to notify drug firms about possible side-effects of their products must be displayed on all promotional material.


Speaking at the launch in central London, Andrew Hotchkiss, ABPI board member in charge of the project, said: "The ABPI code of practice has been the gold standard for pharmaceutical industry regulation throughout the world for many years.

"Our aim was to ensure that it continued to be strong and effective as well as fully meeting all the changes and requirements that have occurred since the last review."

Jeremy Mean, senior policy manager at the government regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said: "The control of medicines advertising in the UK is based on a long-established system of self-regulation supported by the statutory role of the MHRA.

"The MHRA warmly welcomes the new code, which includes positive changes to enhance patient safety to ensure that the code remains robust and rigorous."


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