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Roche barred from the ABPI for breach of code

Roche has been thrown out of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry for at least six months because of seriously breaching the association’s code of practice.

The disciplinary action follows incidents between 2003 and 2005 which were likely to “bring discredit on” or “reduce confidence in” the pharmaceutical industry.

The incidents followed a complaint, claiming a breach of the code, brought by a former Roche employee.

The employee drew attention to an article in the Financial Times which alleged that Roche had sold large quantities of Xenical (orlistat) to the operator of private diet clinics. The article went on to allege that the company agreed to pay the operator £55,000 in order to purchase another clinic.

The Code of Practice Panel of the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority — the body that administers the ABPI code of practice — ruled that the supply of Xenical was inappropriate.

An appeal by Roche against the decision was rejected by the PMCPA appeal board, which upheld the original ruling. It went on to rule that the supply of the drug may have been prejudicial to patient safety and that the proposed payment to the proprietor, which had been linked to the use of Xenical, was also in breach of the code of practice.

The ABPI said on 14 July that because of the serious nature of the case it felt it appropriate to publicly reprimand Roche.

APBI president Chris Brinsmead said: “The highest possible ethical standards are required by the pharmaceutical industry in all its activities. Breaches of the code are viewed seriously and this is reflected in the suspension.”

The APBI said Roche has accepted the decision and had taken action to prevent recurrence of the breaches.

Roche’s readmission to the ABPI depends on a satisfactory audit of the company’s procedures by the association’s board.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10017928

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