This review comments on matters of current concern in the application of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Code of Practice and also details the outcome of complaints heard in the previous three months.
Normally the reviews remain confidential however I did briefly mention a complaint I had raised in a recent article when I was misquoted by drug company representatives during their promotional activity. More details are available in the review starting on page 52.
In summary, the complaint followed a meeting between a company and myself where there was disagreement about the place in therapy of a product. Following this meeting the company in question started to promote their product stating that I endorsed it. During the meeting I made no such endorsement if this product and refused to provide an endorsement in writing.
In such a case it is difficult for the panel at the hearing to reach a final decision, as it is one person's word against another's. However, in this instance the panel felt that, on the balance of probabilities and based on the evidence presented, the Code of Practice had been breached.
I have learned a lot from this situation. Firstly, I never overtly endorse any product and refuse to provide written endorsement of any product to representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. Secondly, I make it very clear, when necessary, that my name and that of the organisation I work for must not be used during any promotional activity for any pharmaceutical product.
Action: All clinicians who may be considered as opinion leaders should exercise caution when discussing or endorsing pharmaceutical products. To ensure clear understanding it is worthwhile putting your views in writing if they are to be used during promotional activities.
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