The breaches to ABPIs Code of Practice included excessive hospitality
Astellas, Allergan, Baxter, Ferring, Ipsen, Janssen, Orion, Pfizer, Recordati and Takeda were all accused by various NHS health professionals of breaching the ABPI’s Code of Practice.
The anonymous, non-contactable group complained that the firms had offered excessive hospitality at the annual meeting of the Irish Society of Urology (ISU).
The PMCPA said that the ISU’s president at the time of the meeting called the allegation “spurious as it was unsigned and mischievous”.
However, the main problem was that it appeared the firms highlighted on the back page of the event’s programme “had supported all the arrangements for the two-day meeting held at a luxurious venue with golf and a gala dinner”.
The panel considered that the 5-star hotel was at the ‘limits of acceptability’ and that other ‘non-luxurious venues’ would have had adequate conference facilities.
And the declaration of sponsorship was not clear as to exactly what had been supported, therefore “it was not unreasonable to assume that the companies listed had supported everything in the programme”.
It all added up to the arrangements for the meeting described in the programme and the impression given – an important consideration under the Code – being unacceptable, the panel said.
High standards had not been met so Astellas, Baxter, Ferring, Ipsen, Janssen, Orion, Pfizer, Recordati and Takeda were all ruled in breach of clause 9.1, which says these must be maintained at all times.
In fact, the majority of companies listed had only paid to exhibit – but there was no indication of this.
Astellas Ireland had also paid for a drinks reception, for which an itemised bill was settled at 1.15am.
Although Astellas UK insisted that the reception was prior to dinner, the panel noted that spirits had been ordered as well as two Irish coffees, three liqueurs and “other drinks which were more likely to be consumed after dinner than before”.
Astellas Ireland had also supported the attendance of six delegates from the Irish Republic, several of whom had their accommodation paid for, along with one dinner and some registration fees.
These payments, plus Astellas’ ‘lack of control’ at the drinks reception meant the company breached clause 19.1, which covers the acceptable limits of hospitality involving pharma firms.
Ferring was also ruled to have breached 19.1 because one employee had attended the gala dinner, which the panel felt was inappropriate.
Although health professionals paid for their own tickets it was not acceptable for a company to be involved in such an event, the PMCPA said.
None of the companies were found guilty of the most serious Code transgression – a breach of clause 2, which deals with bringing discredit upon, or reducing confidence in, the pharma industry.
The PMCPA’s verdict will be published in the May 2013 Review.