A new independent report from the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University confirms that the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is leading the way when it comes to the provision of high quality and robust professional development through the ABPI exam.
The report concluded that it is "not common practice in the UK for bodies who set professional examinations to carry out analysis of the questions they use" and that "the ABPI is leading the way in ensuring that its exams are reliable and give valid results."
The exam, first introduced in the 1960s for medical sales representatives, was formally accredited by Industry Qualifications (IQ) in 2014. The independent report, commissioned by the ABPI in 2016, assesses how rigorously candidates are tested through the ABPI exam since that accreditation.
Any pharmaceutical company employee who is working with GPs, nurse prescribers, pharmacists and consultants in the NHS, and sharing information on medicines, must pass the ABPI exam as required by the ABPI Code of Practice. By May 2016, 845 people had taken the accredited exam with 372 people passing the exam in 2016.
The report showed that 79% of the 2,260 questions assessed met high standards and 21% (615) were identified as requiring review. Those 615 were therefore immediately removed from the exam question bank and are currently being reviewed by Dr Gary Skinner, ABPI's Chief Examiner and former Principle Examiner for Edexcel's A-level biology course.
Sarah Jones, ABPI's Head of Education & Academic Liaison, said:
"We commissioned this report to provide reassurances to candidates, employers, and to the wider public that those people working for the pharmaceutical industry are appropriately qualified. The conclusions of this independent review make it clear that the ABPI can provide these assurances with certainty and that we are leading the way in industry self-regulation.Further analysis of ABPI exam questions will be carried out on an ongoing basis to ensure the exam continues to provide a reliable measure of pharmaceutical industry representatives' knowledge on the key areas assessed."
"We commissioned this report to provide reassurances to candidates, employers, and to the wider public that those people working for the pharmaceutical industry are appropriately qualified. The conclusions of this independent review make it clear that the ABPI can provide these assurances with certainty and that we are leading the way in industry self-regulation.
Further analysis of ABPI exam questions will be carried out on an ongoing basis to ensure the exam continues to provide a reliable measure of pharmaceutical industry representatives' knowledge on the key areas assessed."
Professor Robert Coe, School of Education and Director of the CEM at Durham University, wrote the foreword to the report and said:
"Carrying out such analysis and then explaining the results to test writers is not common in the UK context and the work that the ABPI has been doing places the organisation at the forefront of professional development in the UK."
The 'Independent analysis of ABPI exam questions' is available online.
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About the ABPI
The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.
Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. We represent companies who supply more than 80 per cent of all branded medicines used by the NHS and who are researching and developing the majority of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome disease.
Globally our industry is researching and developing more than 7,000 new medicines.
The ABPI is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.