European Pharma Group May Ban Promotional Products

Changes to the gifting portion of its code of ethics are on the agenda for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) during its annual meeting on June 24-25. The organization is planning discuss revisions to article 10 of its EFPIA Code on the Promotion of Prescription Only Medicines To, And Interactions With, Healthcare Professionals (HPC Code). The changes are expected to be formally adopted, which will prohibit the use of promotional products when promoting pharmaceuticals effective January 1, 2014.

Pharmaceutical companies associated with EFPIA or affiliated through an EFPIA member association have been advised of the upcoming change when ordering their promotional materials for 2014. The draft code states that remaining product stock can still be given away to professionals until June 30, 2014.

The European Promotional Product Association (EPPA) has developed a letter that its members can use for pharmaceutical company clients.

“It is not good development that the pharmaceutical industry’s code of ethics, which in itself does cover some good issues, banishes the use of promotional products this easily to achieve transparency,” says Hans Poulis, president and CEO of EPPA. ‘“Inexpensive’ promotional products have no influence at all on the decision-making process of a healthcare professional. It is proven that such low values cannot be assumed to offer either a cash advantage or exert influence. Our products are unreasonably banished for all the wrong reasons and we as EPPA will do everything in our power to avoid final adoption of this adjusted code of ethics.

“Many pharmaceutical companies are located in Europe. We know these companies spend a significant part of their marketing budget on promotional products, and this development will have a negative influence on European promotional products companies—especially since Europe is still in a financial crisis at this moment. In the upcoming months, EPPA will work hard to promote the effectiveness of promotional products towards end customers.”

PPAI president and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, adds: “PPAI—as a global organization— shares many of the same issues and opportunities as our European colleagues at EPPA. We will continue to lend our support, knowledge and experiences to our colleagues in Europe on this impactful decision by the European pharmaceutical organization to curtail the use of promotional products. We know firsthand the negative impact similar U.S. PhRMA guidelines had on our own marketplace in 2009. We continue to build strong relationships with a number of organizations throughout Europe and applaud EPPA for taking a leadership position on this important global industry issue.”

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