Roche Slapped for Vodka Shots & Dancing on Stage

Published: Mar 04, 2013

After a hard day at a medical conference, a pair of senior Roche employees grabbed a taxi and went to a “lively, loud, party bar” to unwind. But then the Roche employees bought “round after round of shot drinks” for doctors who were also enjoying themselves. And the drinks “flowed like hot lava,” according to an anonymous complaint filed with the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, a UK panel that monitors industry behavior. There was more. The Roche employees “revelled way after midnight with a large group” that “swelled in size as others joined and the party was raucous,” according to the complaint. And then, one senior employee jumped on a stage and allegedly “made a buffoon of himself by being physically evicted” from the bar. As a result, the PMCPA decided that Roche breached one code for failing to maintain high standards in the presence of health professionals. Such episodes are, of course, an embarrassment. In its defense, Roche maintained its staff – a total of nine Roche employees found their way to the bar – had not arrived with any health professionals nor invited them to meet there. The drugmaker also submitted receipts that did not seem to prove that its employees purchased drinks for any health professionals, who consumed which drinks or that the money spent was for shots, specifically. Although Roche conceded its employees were at the bar until a late hour, the drugmaker argued that there was no firm evidence to suggest employee behavior was inappropriate and also objected to the idea that a breach of code should be considered simply because its employees may be found in the same bar as health professionals. Roche maintained that a breach of code was “illogical, perverse and simply wrong.” And so Roche appealed.

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