UK: Crackdown On Drug Firm Promotion

Drug firms will no longer be able to court doctors with prizes and lavish venues, following an overhaul of the industry's code of practice. Companies must only offer economy air travel to delegates sponsored to attend meetings, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry adds. The first changes to the industry's code in a decade also focus on patient safety and process complaints faster. Companies that breach the code can be named and shamed, the ABPI said. The new code comes into effect on January 1, 2006. It bans the use of promotional competitions and quizzes. As far as meetings and seminars are concerned, subsistence - food and accommodation - must be strictly limited to what is essential for people to attend the event. And companies should avoid using venues renowned for entertainment facilities, it says. Firms must make public a list of all patient organisations to which they provide financial support, and prominent information about how to notify drug firms about possible side-effects of their products must be displayed on all promotional material.

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