Inter-company Complaints

The PMCPA aims to deal with all complaints under the Code in a timely manner. The following is intended to guide complainants so that their submissions will help the Authority in this regard.

Inter-company complaints will only be accepted if they are signed or authorized in writing by the company’s managing director, chief executive or equivalent and inter-company dialogue at a senior level has not been successful (Paragraph 5.3 of the Constitution and Procedure refers). The complainant company must submit a formal statement with its complaint detailing the actions taken. Complainants must state those clauses of the Code which are alleged to have been breached and must not go beyond the scope of the inter-company dialogue. If new matters and/or clauses are raised they will be referred back for discussion between the parties in the first instance. Guidance on intercompany dialogue can be found here.

When submitting a complaint brevity might not always be possible if complex matters are to be discussed but a clear and precise exposition of the facts should be provided. Repetition of the same point should be avoided. All points should be covered in the letter to the PMCPA. In inter-company complaints cross reference to previous correspondence between the parties should be avoided.

Cite only those clauses of the Code that are most relevant to specific aspects of your complaint. It is often the case that although a number of clauses are alleged to have been breached, some of those allegations will be rejected by the Code of Practice Panel and thus, unless successfully appealed, an administrative charge will be levied against a complainant company. A claim ruled in breach of just one or two clauses of the Code will preclude its future use. It is wise to stick to your strongest argument and cite as few clauses of the Code as possible.

It is quicker to deal with concise complaints. Instead of submitting one very large complaint about a media campaign and material issued to health professionals, consider submitting two smaller complaints, covering each aspect separately. That way if the Panel needs to contact either party for more information on just one aspect of the campaign then at least the other aspect can be dealt with uninterrupted.

Consider giving your complaint to someone who is not familiar with the matters at issue to read it to ensure that it clearly sets out a clear and well reasoned argument. When a published paper etc is cited, it should be provided if possible. References should be relevant; there is little merit in merely citing and/or submitting a large number of published papers without any commentary on them. If you are able to provide copies of relevant published papers or other documents please ensure that all pages are photocopied. It is not unusual when the original was double-sided for only the odd or even pages to be sent to the Authority.

Compliance with inter-company undertakings

​An undertaking, given in acceptance of a ruling of a breach of the Code, is an important document.  It includes an assurance that all possible steps will be taken to avoid similar breaches of the Code in future.  It is very important for the reputation of the industry that companies comply with undertakings.
It is equally important that companies comply with undertakings given during the course of inter-company dialogue.  Although such undertakings are not covered by the Code, and are thus not subject to the requirements of the Code, breaching an inter-company undertaking may indicate that previous inter-company dialogue has ultimately been unsuccessful.  In such circumstances Paragraph 5.3 of the Constitution and Procedure allows a formal complaint about the matter which was the subject of the inter-company undertaking to be submitted without the need for further inter-company dialogue.
Before submitting a complaint to the Authority companies should, however, ensure that the passage of time or the publication of new data etc is not such as to impact on previous inter-company undertakings.