The ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry sets standards for the advertising and promotion of medicines for prescribing to health professionals and appropriate administrative staff in the UK. It includes requirements for the provision of information on prescription only medicines to the general public. In addition, the Code applies to a number of areas that are non-promotional.
The Code does not apply to the promotion of over-the-counter medicines to the general public. Nor does it cover the promotion of over-the-counter medicines to health professionals when the object is to encourage purchase by the general public.
The Code covers:
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 legal requirements controlling the advertising of medicines.
The detailed provisions in the Code aim to ensure that pharmaceutical companies operate in a responsible, ethical and professional manner. Compliance with the Code is obligatory for ABPI member companies and, in addition, around fifty non-member companies have voluntarily agreed to comply with the Code and to accept the jurisdiction of the PMCPA.
The pharmaceutical industry strongly supports the Code with all companies devoting considerable resources to ensure compliance. Any complaint made against a company under the Code is regarded as a serious matter both by the company and by the industry on a whole. All complaints are investigated. The PMCPA deals with the complaints and sanctions are applied when a breach of the Code is ruled.
The Code of Practice has been regularly revised since its inception in 1958 and is drawn up in consultation with the British Medical Association, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, the Royal College of Nursing and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.