More than 8,000 employees from 50 pharmaceutical companies across the UK will unite on one day - Tuesday, April 25 - to talk to doctors and other health professionals about the Code of Practice that governs their work.
CODE Day is a unique landmark event for the pharmaceutical industry and signals its commitment to promoting greater understanding of the latest edition of the code, which sets the ethical standards the industry must meet in its dealings with healthcare professionals and others.
The aim of the day is to ensure that as many people as possible know about the code, its provisions and how to make a complaint. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is coordinating the initiative, which is supported by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), British Medical Association (BMA), Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Royal College of Nursing (RCN), NHS Alliance, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB).
On CODE Day, pharmaceutical sales representatives and other industry employees who contact health professionals, patient organisations, professional bodies, the media, members of the general public and MPs will dedicate time to discussing the 2006 edition of the ABPI Code of Practice. This combined effort aims to draw attention to how tightly regulated the industry is, how it operates to the highest ethical standards, and the rigid sanctions on companies that breach the code. All stakeholders will also be informed about how to make a complaint.
All aspects of the promotion of medicines - advertisements, representatives' activities, meetings and hospitality, as well as non-promotional activities, such as co-operation with patient groups, the provision of education, and information to the public - are self-regulated through the pharmaceutical industry's code. Yet research has shown that 48 per cent of doctors interviewed were unaware of the code, while 86 per cent had no knowledge of how to make a complaint, and 57 per cent would like to have more information about it.
Nigel Brooksby, President of the ABPI and Managing Director of sanofi-aventis, said: "I will champion the new code of conduct to ensure that it raises the standard of healthcare in the UK even higher. This industry-wide initiative symbolises our commitment to promoting the code more widely for the benefit of all patients."
To ensure that all healthcare professionals are fully aware of industry standards, they will be offered copies of the ABPI Code and You and Guidance Notes for Health Professionals - Understanding the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry, which clarify the main provisions of the code.
Professor Dame Carol Black CBE, President of the RCP, said: "The Royal College of Physicians welcomes this initiative to help raise awareness of pharmaceutical industry's Code of Practice. We all have an important role to play in helping to monitor activities to help maintain standards and the effectiveness of the system. We would encourage all members to open their doors to the industry on CODE Day, to learn more about the code and industry self-regulation, and how to report possible breaches to the Prescription Medicine Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), which administers the code."
Gerald Alexander, Vice-President of the RPSGB, said: "Raising awareness of the ABPI Code of Practice is welcomed by community, primary care and hospital pharmacists, as their role in delivering healthcare brings them in to closer contact with representatives from the pharmaceutical industry."
Eddie Gray, General Manager and Senior Vice President of GlaxoSmithKline UK Pharma, stated: "We welcome this opportunity for a positive dialogue on the benefits of the code and to send a clear message that we are fully committed to improving greater understanding of it, and the effective regulation it confers."
Olivier Brandicourt, Managing Director of Pfizer Ltd, added: "CODE Day is a significant day for the industry and we fully support it. In fact, we are asking all our employees to participate in this day to promote the code."
Professor Kent Woods, Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said, "The MHRA is pleased to support this initiative to promote awareness among health professionals of the ABPI Code and how it works. The self-regulatory code makes a major contribution to the effective regulation of medicines advertising, underpinned by the statutory role of the MHRA."
The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA; www.pmcpa.org.uk) was established by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) on January 1, 1993 to operate the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry at arm's length from the ABPI itself. The Code of Practice Review gives details of complaints considered and is available at www.pmcpa.org.uk
Complaints submitted under the code are considered in the first instance by the Code of Practice Panel which consists of the Director, Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Authority, acting with the assistance of independent expert advisers where appropriate. Both the complainant and the respondent company may appeal to the Code of Practice Appeal Board against rulings made by the panel.
The Appeal Board is chaired by an independent legally qualified chairman and includes independent members from outside the industry. Details of its composition can be found in the Constitution and Procedure.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press office: 020 7747 1410