Roche has been suspended from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) after serious breaches of the code of practice were ruled.
A former employee of the company alleged the sales of orlistat (Xenical®) to a private diet clinic were excessive and that agreement had been reached to financially support acquisition of a new clinic. It further transpired that the medication has been sold to the owner of the clinic and that this individual held no medical qualifications and was therefore essentially a member of the public.
The ruling noted that Roche were made aware of irregular activities at this clinic in a representative report in May 2003. Despite this knowledge they continued to sell product for almost 2 years! In light of this the panel noted the apparent "disregard for patient care" and recommend suspension from the ABPI for undermining confidence in and bringing discredit upon the industry.
Action: Clinicians should be aware of this ruling and suspension.