To demonstrate this commitment over 50 years ago, in October 1958, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which represents the UK industry, decided that certain activities should be covered in detail and thus agreed the first ABPI Code of Practice. The Code covers the promotion of medicines for prescribing to both health professionals and appropriate administrative staff. It also includes requirements for interactions with health professionals. In addition it sets standards for the provision of information about prescription only medicines to the public and patients, including patient organisations.
In addition to the Code there is extensive UK and European law relating to the promotion of medicines. The Code reflects and extends beyond the relevant UK law.
The aim of the Code is to ensure that the promotion of medicines to health professionals and to administrative staff is carried out within a robust framework to support high quality patient care. As well as covering promotional material, it controls samples, meetings, promotional aids, the provision of medical and educational goods and services, outcome or risk sharing agreements, patient access schemes, joint working between the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS, the conduct of non-interventional studies and the use of health professionals and administrative staff as consultants. The Code also sets standards relating to the provision of information to patients and the public as well as relationships with patient groups. The industry considers that provided the requirements of the Code are met, working with patients and patient organisations can bring significant public health benefits. These requirements also apply to working with all user groups, such as disability associations, relative and carer associations and consumer associations.
In summary, companies must ensure that their materials are appropriate, factual, fair and capable of substantiation and that all other activities are appropriate and reasonable.