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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Drug firm's tactics reprimanded
Pills
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry represents over 75 firms
A major drugs firm has been named and shamed over "serious breaches" of the industry's code of conduct.

Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd, the UK arm of Merck & Co Inc, has been suspended from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Merck offered GPs help screening blood pressure patients, but the service was only available to doctors which used its blood pressure drug, Cozaar.

Merck said it regretted the situation and took the reprimand seriously.

We are working hard to reaffirm our core values and standards, and restore confidence and pride in our business practices
Chris Round, managing director of MSD

It is quite common for drug firms to offer such a service, but by only offering it on such a limited basis, Merck was in breach of clause two of the code.

Suspension - for a minimum of three months - means that MSD UK will be refused involvement with the ABPI, the trade association for more than 75 companies in the UK which produce prescription medicines.

During the course of the investigation, the ABPI found MSD used Cozaar logos and called the venture the "Cozaar Nurse Audit Programme".

It was alerted to the breach by a former MSD sales representative who noted the logos were used on slides for the programme.

The Panel of the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) - which administers the ABPI Code of Practice - found that internal company documentation clearly linked the programme to the promotion of Cozaar and said the plan was "totally unacceptable".

Standards

Nigel Brooksby, president of the ABPI, said: "The highest possible ethical standards are required by the pharmaceutical industry in all its relationships with healthcare professionals and other stakeholders.

"Breaches of the code are viewed in the most serious possible light, and this is reflected in the suspension.

"However, it is reassuring to note that MSD also recognises the seriousness of the breaches, and is taking action to prevent their recurrence."

Chris Round, managing director of MSD UK, said: "We view the finding of a breach by the PMCPA very seriously and regret this situation, which we feel does not present a true reflection of the core ethics and values of our organisation.

"We are working hard to reaffirm our core values and standards, and restore confidence and pride in our business practices.

"Our values and standards are not only the foundation of our company and all that we stand for, but they are the basis of our success. They always have been and they always will be."


SEE ALSO
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11 Apr 06 |  Health

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