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Boehringer in breach over beer drinking, lederhosen presentation

German firm earns PMCPA’s wrath over ‘inappropriate’ conference speakers


Boehringer Ingelheim has been found guilty of breaching the ABPI's Code of Practice after allowing speakers at a therapy event to drink beer and wear lederhosen.

The PMCPA, which polices the UK pharma industry's self-regulatory ethics code, found the company culpable of breaching clause 9.1 of the code, i.e., failing to maintain high standards.

The breach comes after a pulmonologist working in Germany complained about a scientific symposium organised by Boehringer at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Congress, held in Munich last year.

The symposium was part of the industry-sponsored sessions and was advertised in the official meeting programme as 'Slowing disease progression in IPF [idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis]: New evidence From phase III clinical trials'. Boehringer currently markets the medicine Ofev (nintedanib) for the respiratory disorder and was there to present its latest clinical data for the treatment.

The pulmonologist's main complaint was that on the main stage, the speakers were allowed to drink beer - with one even dressed in lederhosen. For a serious, fatal condition the doctor said this was simply “not appropriate”.

As two of the speakers were from the UK, he assumed the UK rules should apply to them.The PMCPA agreed, meaning its rules did reach to the event, despite being held out of the UK.

The panel says it considers that the overall impression given from the beer-drinking speakers was “unacceptable”. It goes on: “The subsistence in this regard was inappropriate. 

The panel considered that high standards had not been maintained. A breach [clause 9.1] was ruled.The PMCPA did not, however, find the firm guilty of clause 2 of the Code, bringing disrepute on the industry, meaning Boehringer will not earn the highest level of censure.

This is not the first time the PMCPA has found an inappropriate link between alcohol and pharma after Roche UK was found guilty of several breaches in 2013 when some of its UK employees were discovered to be drinking alcohol to excess at an after-party of a scientific conference.

This also comes in the same week that new research from the University of Lund in Sweden claims that pharma companies in the UK and Sweden are adopting unethical marketing practices “on average more than once a week”, being found regularly guilty of breaches from bodies such as the PMCPA.

Article by
Ben Adams

20th February 2015

From: Sales



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