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The premier health and medical news on the Internet
UK pharma body reinstates Abbott, further review of conduct within six months
Last Updated: 2006-07-14 13:33:10 -0400                                 By *****

LONDON (Agence de Presse Medicale for Reuters Health) - The UK's Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (APBI) said on Friday it has reinstated Abbott Laboratories' membership to the pharma body following the U.S. group's suspension in February. In a brief statement, the ABPI said its board of management "has noted that the importance of complying with the ABPI Code of Practice has been made clear to all Abbott staff, and an audit report in May referred to the company's commitment to compliance and its progress in recent months".

It added that the ABPI board decided the U.S. group should have its membership reinstated with effect from July 1st. However, it said there will be a "further audit" within six months to ensure progress is being maintained. The ABPI added that Abbott's membership was suspended after it was found have breached the code that deals with activities that "bring discredit on, or reduce confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry".

CODE BREACH

The ABPI said in February Abbott had been associated with "inappropriate" hospitality, including a visit to a lap dancing club.

In a statement then, the ABPI said it had suspended Abbott after company reps invited up to 36 health professionals to visit a restaurant in a greyhound stadium and, on another occasion, offered hospitality to a senior hospital manager at a Wimbledon tennis tournament including centre court tickets.
None of the events, which took place in 2004, involved educational content; they were also disproportionately expensive and were, therefore, in breach of the industry's UK code of conduct, the ABPI said in the February statement. In a third complaint against Abbott, the ABPI heard that following a two-day workshop and dinner, a health professional and two company representatives visited a lap dancing club. In defence, Abbott argued that because it did not pay for the lap dancing and the events took place outside working hours, the activity fell outside of the ABPI's code of conduct. But the ABPI decided that "irrespective of whether company money had been used to fund the visit to the nightclub, such activity would bring discredit upon, and reduce confidence in the pharmaceutical industry".

The U.S. company said then it had a "zero tolerance policy" for behaviour that breached the company's code of conduct. It added that the allegations related to the individual actions of a small number of employees in 2004. After a "thorough examination", the employees involved either resigned or had their employment terminated.

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