AUTH/3318/3/20 - Anonymous v Camurus

Inappropriate hospitality

  • Received
    12 March 2020
  • Case number
  • Applicable Code year
  • Completed
    08 September 2020
  • Breach Clause(s)
  • Sanctions applied
    Undertaking received
  • Additional sanctions
  • Appeal
    No appeal

Case Summary

An anonymous, non-contactable individual complained about the provision of hospitality by representatives of Camurus Ltd at the Lisbon Addictions 2019 Conference in October 2019.

The complainant stated that Camurus took one of his/her colleagues to a football match and entertained him/her during the evening with no intention of education involved. The complainant found it very unprofessional of the company, particularly as this was not an invitation to everyone in the room. The complainant stated that these sorts of activities put the industry into disrepute and was not something that he/she wanted the NHS to be associated with.

The detailed response from Camurus is given below.

The Panel noted that two Camurus UK representatives attended a Champions League football match in Lisbon on 23 October 2019 along with a UK health professional after one of the representatives informally agreed with the health professional to go together as both were planning to attend. The second representative’s account was not entirely consistent with that of the first representative. The Panel noted that, according to both representatives, the health professional purchased three tickets at the door. Each representative subsequently reimbursed the health professional for their own ticket only although it was of concern that the exact cost of the tickets purchased was unknown and there was a discrepancy between the amount each representative paid the health professional. The Panel noted Camurus’ submission that its investigation of the expense claims and the interviews with its representatives indicated that the company did not pay for anyone to attend the football match and no Camurus employees or contracted staff invited any health professionals to attend the match; the idea to attend the match originated from the health professional. The representatives’ accounts were not entirely consistent with this latter point. The Panel queried whether it would have been clear to third parties or to those health professionals who had not attended the football match that it was not a formal company event and that the representatives had only paid for themselves and had not claimed expenses back from the company. The Panel noted, however, that according to one of the representatives, hospitality purchased by a representative on the evening of the football match included two drinks each for him/herself, the other representative and for the health professional.

The Panel noted that whilst there was no evidence that Camurus had paid for the health professional’s attendance at the football match, the poor impression given by two Camurus representatives attending the Champions League football match with the UK health professional was important and it appeared that the health professional was also provided with hospitality after the football match at the hotel bar at a cost to Camurus. Taking all the circumstances into account, the Panel did not consider that the hospitality provided on 23 October 2019 was secondary to the main purpose of an educational event, ie subsistence only. The level was not appropriate and was out of proportion to the occasion. Breaches of the Code were ruled including that high standards had not been maintained.

The Panel noted its comments and rulings above, in particular the poor impression given by attending a Champions League football match with a UK health professional whilst attending an international meeting and subsequent hospitality. The Panel noted that hospitality provided in particular at international meetings attracted much public scrutiny and given the poor impression given by the arrangements considered, on balance, that Camurus had brought discredit to, and reduced confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry a breach of Clause 2 of the Code was ruled.