Nearly half of doctors are unaware of the Code of Practice that governs relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and its healthcare partners, according to a survey by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) – and an updated booklet published today is the first step in a campaign to boost their knowledge.


​The survey showed that 52 per cent of all doctors are aware of the ABPI Code of Practice, with awareness being significantly higher among GPs – 65 per cent – as opposed to the 40 per cent of hospital doctors who know of it.

“While it is good that nearly two-thirds of GPs are aware of our code, these figures confirm that more needs to be done to spread the word about the code and the robust provisions covering ethical relationships between the industry and its stakeholders that are at its core,” said Vincent Lawton, President of the ABPI.

“The ABPI code is regarded as a world gold standard for self-regulation, and its value is acknowledged by the Government’s regulatory body, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. But we need to spread the word widely among those with whom we deal so that as many as possible know about the code, its provisions and how to make a complaint.”

To help provide further information, the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) – which administers the code at arm’s length from the ABPI – has published updated guidance notes for health professionals in understanding the new code. The notes are being distributed through the post and also published on the web.

The notes summarise the purpose of the code, how complaints are dealt with and some of the principal areas covered by the code, including gifts and hospitality, training for staff, how promotional material is approved, and relations with the media and the public.

The survey, held in January this year, was conducted among some 400 doctors, of whom half were GPs and the other half were hospital doctors. Among other findings were:

  • Eighty per cent of doctors who are aware of the code believe it is either very or quite effective.
  • Only two per cent of those doctors think it is not at all effective, although 18 per cent do not believe it is very effective.
  • Only 30 per cent of those who know of the code are also aware of how to make a complaint.
  • 57 per cent of all those interviewed would like to know more about the code.

“Communication about the code and how to make a complaint is obviously very important, and our aim is to ensure that we spread the message as widely as we can,” said Mr Lawton. “The updated guidance notes are just the first stage in a major awareness campaign to achieve this.”

A PR agency, Santé, has been appointed to help develop initiatives for the campaign, which is due to start in April. In addition, the PMCPA is to appoint its first communications manager to improve the authority’s interface with stakeholders.

For further information, please contact: ABPI Press office: 020 7747 1410


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