PMCPA launches new social media guidance for pharmaceutical companies

​The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) has published new social media guidance to help pharmaceutical companies apply the high standards demanded by the industry’s Code of Practice to all their online communications channels.  

Press Release 26 January 2023

Please note that Q and A's (added 1 June 2023) and Slides and recordings from the webinar are now available

The PMCPA is the independent body which administers the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Code of Practice.

The ABPI Code sets out the rules which govern the promotion of prescription medicines to UK health professionals and other relevant decision-makers. It also sets standards for providing information about prescription-only medicines to the public.

The PMCPA Social Media Guidance 2023 has been produced in consultation with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the ABPI, and pharmaceutical companies. It includes advice for companies to help them use social media in line with these rules and the rest of the Code.

The guide covers companies’ use of corporate social media channels and employees’ personal use of those channels. In particular, it reminds companies of the relevant laws and Code provisions that apply in different cases, and the principles that companies have to be mindful of when using or interacting with social media.

It also looks at the use of social media in specific situations, such as clinical trial recruitment, patient support, working with influencers, job advertising, and announcing product or pipeline milestones. Examples are included showing what social media activity may be acceptable in different circumstances, although the PMCPA cannot pre-approve any materials or activities and complaints will be considered on their own merits.


Director of the PMCPA Alex Fell said:

“We recognise that social media can pose particular challenges for companies under the ABPI Code. With its wide reach and international audience, information on medicines can be seen by audiences it wasn’t intended for.

“I hope this guidance will help companies navigate the potential pitfalls of social media, with more confidence, a clearer knowledge of the principles to follow and the legal requirements.”


Claire Tilstone, Head of Advertising at the MHRA said:

“We have worked closely with the PMCPA to help develop this guidance. We are confident it will assist companies who want to use social media while complying with the Code and legal requirements and maintaining the high standards the public expects.”


Dr Amit Aggarwal, Executive Director for Medical Affairs at the ABPI said:

“Companies take the ABPI Code extremely seriously. They go to great lengths to abide by it in everything they do, and it is right that the PMCPA has acted to help firms navigate the challenging area presented by social media platforms.

“This guidance will help companies plan their social media activity effectively, put the right safeguards in place so that the information they communicate is appropriate, and use social media with more confidence.”

The PMCPA will ran two webinars to help companies and media organisations understand this new guidance. The recordings will be made available shortly.


Notes to Editors:

The PMCPA’s social media guidance was informed by a working group consisting of representatives from the MHRA and pharmaceutical companies.

About the PMCPA

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) is the self-regulatory body which administers the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry, independently of the ABPI.  It was established by the ABPI on 1 January 1993.

Media enquiries: Contact the PMCPA via or the switchboard 0207 747 8880.