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 all took place in 2004, with the complaint being made the following year under the 2003 version of the code. A new version of the code came into force in January this year.
The suspension was decided upon by the ABPI Board of Management, although it recognised that the current management at Abbott was taking action to avoid recurrence of such breaches in the future. An audit of Abbott’s procedures was carried out in November 2005, and a second is to be undertaken in May.
"The pharmaceutical industry strives to maintain the highest possible ethical standards in all its dealing with healthcare professionals. The breaches that have been identified are viewed in a very serious light, and this is reflected in the suspension – a sanction that we have not needed to apply for many years," said Vincent Lawton, President of the ABPI.
"However, it is reassuring to note that Abbott also recognises the seriousness of the breaches, and has taken action to prevent their recurrence."
An anonymous complaint was made about a number of meetings held by Abbott, whose UK head office is based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The complaints concerned inappropriate hospitality for health professionals.
Abbott was already aware of the problems that had existed within the company before the complaint was made. When informed of the complaint, it had already undertaken a major investigation of events and review of its procedures, and three employees concerned had left the company.
Notes to editors
The ABPI Code of Practice is administered by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), independently of the ABPI. It is responsible for the provision of advice, guidance and training on the code as well as for the complaints procedure. The code reflects and extends well beyond the legal requirements controlling the advertising of medicines. Full details of the most recent cases, including the case referred to in this press release, reference AUTH 1745/7/05, can be viewed at www.pmcpa.org.uk. The ABPI Code of Practice can be viewed at the same website.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press office: 020 7747 1410