UK’s ABPI releases ‘substantial overhaul’ to Code of Practice


The President of the UK’s Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has announced that its 2021 Code of Practice puts new emphasis on the ABPI’s principles. “We want everyone in pharmaceutical companies to live and breathe these from leadership teams and commercial leads to admin assistants and research scientists. It’s all of our responsibility to put the Code and its Principles into action,” said Ben Osborn.

The UK’s Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) 2021 Code of Practice comes into force from July 1, alongside new ABPI Principles to help companies operate to high ethical standards. The ABPI Code of Practice is the industry’s commitment to operate in a professional, ethical, and transparent manner, for the benefit of patients and the public. It is independently administered by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA).

The 2021 Code has been updated to make the code easier for companies to use in day-to-day activities, to reflect changes in the environment companies operate in and to reflect updates to the European Code.

ABPI Chief Executive Richard Torbett said: “We are proud of our Code which holds companies to standards which go above and beyond the law. The 2021 version of the Code has seen a substantial overhaul, and I’m confident that it will help companies keep to high standards and forge transparent and collaborative relationships for the benefit of patients.”

Changes to the 2021 code include:

Working with the NHS: The new code introduces the concept of ‘collaborative working’ with healthcare organisations. This is intended to reflect the scope of projects on which healthcare organisations and industry can work together for the joint development of patient and/or healthcare centred projects. Companies can continue to take part in joint working with the NHS for the benefit of patients.

Contracted services: A new requirement to disclose payments in aggregate for contracted services paid to members of the public, including patients and journalists from 2022, to be disclosed in 2023. This will be done on company websites.

Changes to MEGS: Medical and Educational Goods and Services (MEGS) are now replaced and can be provided as either donations or collaborative working.

Impact of the pandemic: The code recognises that in public health emergencies, temporary supply authorisations for medicines may be given. There are various references to temporary supply authorisations in the Code including a new clause that a medicine with a temporary supply authorisation must not be promoted unless it is part of a campaign that has been approved by health ministers.

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