The ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry covers all forms of the promotion of prescription medicines to healthcare professionals in the UK as well as the provision of information to the public by pharmaceutical companies. It aims to safeguard the interests of patients and to ensure a responsible and ethical approach to such activities.
An independent market research company will be approaching a number of organisations on behalf of the ABPI to ascertain their views on the code and how it can be improved as part of the review, which was announced earlier in the year.
The organisations range from regulators such as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Advertising Standards Authority; to professional bodies, including royal colleges; consumer bodies; patient advocacy groups; trade bodies; and other groups such as the BMJ and the Lancet, and the King's Fund. Several other organisations will be formally notified of the consultation so that they can make their views known.
More generally, any individual or organisation with comments or suggestions about the ABPI Code of Practice is invited to send their comments to the ABPI.
"Since the last review of the ABPI Code of Practice in 1992, there have been considerable changes in the NHS, including increased patient involvement in the decision-making process," said Andrew Hotchkiss, the ABPI Board member and Managing Director of Lilly UK, who is in charge of the project.
"The pharmaceutical industry takes self-regulation extremely seriously indeed, and is determined to ensure that its relationships with healthcare professionals and others are conducted to the highest possible ethical standards.
"Through this wide-ranging consultation exercise, we shall be able to take into account the opinions and experience of a large number of organisations and individuals from a variety of different standpoints. This will be invaluable in determining exactly what provisions the new code should contain."
The review will cover all aspects of the code, including recommendations for changes and additions to its clauses, the effectiveness of sanctions, and the practices and processes of other self-regulatory bodies.
The formal consultation process will last for three months, until March 11, 2005. After that, results will be collated and considered, with the aim of publishing the new code before the end of 2005.
The ABPI Code of Practice currently has 22 clauses. With full details of all cases examined by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, which administers the code, made public, it is one of the world's most transparent.
Established in 1958, it is one of the oldest in a global context in the pharmaceutical sector. The last major review of the code was in 1992, but there have been updates since then - for example, expanding the code to cover company websites.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410