Roche Pharma suspended from ABPI over Xenical supply

Roche Pharma in the UK has been suspended from membership of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) for a minimum of six months in connection with serious breaches of the ABPI code of practice.

The action is as a result of activities between 2003 and 2005 held to be in breach of the code, including clause 2 which deals with actions likely to bring discredit on, or reduce confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry.

The suspension was decided upon by the ABPI board of management.

A complaint was made by a former Roche employee who referred to an article in the Financial Times. It alleged that Roche had sold large quantities of Xenical, a prescription-only medicine for the treatment of obesity, to the operator of private diet clinics. It also alleged that Roche had agreed to provide £55,000 for the operator to purchase another clinic.

The code of practice panel of the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, an arms length body which administers the code of practice, ruled that the supply of Xenical was inappropriate. On appeal by Roche, the appeal board upheld the finding, considering the supply possibly prejudicial to patient safety. The panel also ruled that the proposed payment (part of which had been paid) was linked to the use of Xenical and so was in breach of the code.

Roche has accepted the rulings and taken action to prevent their recurrence.

ABPI press release

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