Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Ltd has been suspended from membership of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) for a minimum of three months in connection with serious breaches of the ABPI Code of Practice, it was announced today.
The action has been taken with regard to a complaint about a number of activities held to be in breach of the code including Clause 2 which deals with actions likely to bring discredit on, or reduce confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry.
The activities were all dealt with under the new version of the code's constitution and procedure which came into force in January this year. Details of the suspension and the reasons for it will be advertised in medical and pharmaceutical press, as provided for under the new procedure. Full details of the case can be viewed at www.pmcpa.org.uk, case reference AUTH 1814/3/06.
The suspension was decided upon by the ABPI Board of Management, although it recognised that MSD had fully accepted responsibility for the matters giving rise to the complaint and that management was taking action to ensure there was no repeat.
"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," said Nigel Brooksby, President of the ABPI.
"However, it is reassuring to note that MSD also recognises the seriousness of the breaches, and is taking action to prevent their recurrence."
The complaint was made by a former MSD sales representative who complained about the process by which a nurse audit disease management programme was offered by the company to GPs. The Panel of the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) - an arm's-length body that administers the ABPI Code of Practice - found that internal company documentation clearly linked the service to the promotion of an individual medicine and that the arrangements were "totally unacceptable".
Because of the serious nature of the case, the panel reported MSD to the PMCPA Appeal Board which required an audit of MSD's procedures, a corrective statement and a public reprimand. The appeal board also referred the case to the ABPI Board of Management which decided to suspend MSD from membership for a minimum of three months, starting on October 2, after which time the situation would be reassessed.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410