ABPI consults on new-look Code of Practice

The ABPI is launching a public consultation on the proposed 2021 ABPI Code of Practice for the pharmaceutical industry from today. It will ask pharmaceutical companies, patient organisations, NHS bodies, those who work in health care and others for their views on a new look, more user-friendly ABPI Code of Practice. 

The Code is the pharmaceutical industry’s commitment to operate in a professional, ethical and transparent manner and is the cornerstone of the UK system of industry self-regulation. It both includes and extends beyond UK law.

The changes being consulted on update the ABPI Code in line with the 2019 European Code of Practice, which is required to be implemented by member associations. They also help clarify the Code, and make sure it is as accessible as possible.

The language of the Code has also been updated, reflecting the drive to ‘future-proof’ the Code.

One key change is that the proposed new Code will be arranged into six themed sections according to the activity or audience.  

The sections are:

  • Overarching Requirements
  • Promotion of Medicines to Health Professionals and Other Relevant Decision Makers
  • Interactions with Health Professionals, Other Relevant Decision Makers and Health Care Organisations
  • Interactions with Health Professionals, Other Relevant Decision Makers and Health Care Organisations, Patient Organisations and the Public including Patients, Journalists
  • Interactions with the Public including Patients, Journalists etc and Patient Organisations
  • Annual Disclosure Requirements

Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the ABPI said:

“Our members hold themselves to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and transparency, and we are proud that the ABPI Code is the tool they use to do this.

“It is trusted not just by companies but also by regulators, reflecting and going beyond UK law.

“These changes will make the Code more user friendly, not just for companies, but also the NHS bodies and patient groups they work with. I encourage as many people as possible to have their say in this consultation.”

The principles underlying the Code have been reinforced and ABPI principles developed which include examples of the high standards that companies and individuals are expected to demonstrate.

Haseeb Ahmad, ABPI President, said:

“The new layout will ultimately make the code easier to understand and follow.

“However, initially these changes will need explaining to organisations who’ve been used to working in the previous format, which is why we’ve incorporated a period of training and familiarisation into the process before we transition to the new look Code.”

Heather Simmonds, Director of the PMCPA said:  

“The proposed Code looks different but it will hold companies to the same high standards as always.  Many of the requirements are similar but there are some important differences. 

“We want people to take the time to thoroughly “stress test” the proposals and assess how they will work in practice for their individual organisations and to provide feedback as part of the consultation.”

The consultation can be found here and will run until 8th September. The final proposals are planned to be agreed towards the end of 2020 and the new Code will be published in January 2021 to come into force on 1st July 2021. The current 2019 ABPI Code of Practice will remain in force until 30th June 2021.

  • ABPI Code

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023

The ABPI exists to make the UK the best place in the world to research, develop and use new medicines. We represent companies of all sizes who invest in discovering the medicines of the future. 

Our members supply cutting edge treatments that improve and save the lives of millions of people. We work in partnership with Government and the NHS so patients can get new treatments faster and the NHS can plan how much it spends on medicines. Every day, we partner with organisations in the life sciences community and beyond to transform lives across the UK.