Educational books for doctors
The ABPI Code does not prohibit pharmaceutical companies from funding the publication of educational books for doctors.
It is important to remember the distinction under the ABPI Code between promotional aids and medical and educational goods and services. It is true that pharmaceutical companies are only allowed to provide gifts in the form of promotional aids that are inexpensive (no more than £6 plus VAT and of a similar perceived value to the recipient) and relevant to the recipient’s profession or employment (Clauses 18.1 and 18.2).
The Code, however, allows companies to provide medical and educational goods and services which will enhance patient care or benefit the NHS and maintain patient care (Clause 18.4). These items can cost more than £6 plus VAT and it may be possible for certain textbooks to be provided in accordance with this clause. To benefit from this, however, the books must not be provided in such a way as to be an inducement to prescribe, supply, administer, recommend or buy any medicine and in this regard it is preferable that they are not delivered by medical representatives. Representatives must not subsequently use the provision of such books as leverage to gain future access to doctors or other health professionals. The manner of the provision of medical and educational goods and services must be clearly differentiated from the provision of promotional aids.
A relevant case report on this topic (Case AUTH/1815/3/06) can be found in the ‘completed cases’ section of this website.