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Informal PMCPA digital guidance

The UK's Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority has published 'informal guidance' on digital communications and launched an e-learning module as part of an awareness week for the ABPI Code of Practice

The UK's Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) has published 'informal guidance' on digital communications, with advice on how the pharmaceutical industry can use online communications.

The publication coincides with a week (April 4-8) of raising awareness for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's (ABPI) Code of Practice, which was recently updated with changes to become effective from May 1, 2011.

The digital guidance includes advice on how to use social media such as Twitter, with the PMCPA stating that, in compliance with the Code of Practice, a pharma company promoting a prescription only product would have to ensure that the audience was restricted to healthcare professionals (HCPs) and that recipients had agreed to receive the information.

With these restrictions, the PMCPA said the use of Twitter in this way is "highly unlikely" to meet Code requirements. The body also stated that the notification of HCPs about the publication of studies involving a company's medicines would be considered "promotion".

Regarding correcting information on Wikipedia, the guidance states that it would be "a question of policy for the company" with cross-referencing to regulatory documents seen as reasonable practice.

The PMCPA has also launched an e-learning module for the Code, which is designed to help healthcare professionals understand the requirements of the pharmaceutical industry's self-regulation practices.

The e-learning module for the ABPI Code of Practice
The e-learning module for the ABPI Code of Practice

The module includes an introductory video from Helen Simmonds, director of the PMCPA, as well as advice and regulation for several areas covered in the Code, such as meeting with sales representatives; joint-working; acting as a consultant; meetings, hospitality and sponsorship.

There is also an online assessment, with the module certified for continuous professional development (CPD) in the UK.

There are three meetings during the week to promote and discuss the Code, with one held in London today (April 4); one in Cardiff on Thursday April 7; and one in Edinburgh on Friday April 8.

The ABPI has further information on the meetings as well as other activities for the week.

4th April 2011

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