ABPI seeks comments on ‘future-proof’ code of practice

The body representing the UK pharma industry has published a draft 2021 code of practice, and is asking for feedback on the changes by 8 September.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) wants its members companies, patient organisations, NHS bodies and others working in healthcare to chime in on the new code, which provides the framework for self-regulation of the drug industry on the promotion of medicines to health professionals in the UK.

The new version has a different look and feel to improve its accessibility and meet international standards, according to Heather Simmonds, director of the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) which administers the code independently of the ABPI.

“The proposed code looks different but it will hold companies to the same high standards as always,” she said. “Many of the requirements are similar but there are some important differences.”

A key change is that it is set out in different colour-coded sections according to the audience or the activity, but there are other more fundamental changes as well. That includes changes to definitions – for example on sponsorship, support and events – and amendments to the text throughout to emphasise that digital communications are covered.

The definition of donations and grants has been expanded to cover patient organisations – replacing medical educational goods and services (MEGS) – to bring the ABPI code into line with the code of practice of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) which was updated in 2019.

Patient groups are also now covered under rules covering sponsorship of organisations in relation to events, meetings and other activities, contracted services and disclosure.

A new section has been added on collaborative working, which according to the code “must enhance patient care or be for the benefit of patients, or alternatively benefit the NHS and as a minimum maintain patient care.”

Another change sees members of the public – such as patients or journalists for example – included in the code’s requirements on contracted services. There’s also a proposal for an additional requirement to disclose payments for contracted services paid to people in this category from 2022.

“These changes will make the code more user friendly, not just for companies, but also the NHS bodies and patient groups they work with,” said ABPI chief executive Richard Torbett.

“I encourage as many people as possible to have their say in this consultation,” he added.

The new structure of the code is as follows:

  • Overarching Requirements;
  • Promotion of Medicines to Health Professionals and Other Relevant Decision Makers;
  • Interactions with Health Professionals, Other Relevant Decision Makers and Health Care Organisations;
  • Interactions with Health Professionals, Other Relevant Decision Makers and Health Care Organisations, Patient Organisations and the Public including Patients, Journalists;
  • Interactions with the Public including Patients, Journalists etc. and Patient Organisations; and
  • Annual Disclosure Requirements.

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.