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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19910

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Margo J
Drug Firm Quits After Findings on Complaints
The Sydney Morning Herald 1989 Oct 267

Full text:

A large pharmaceutical company has resigned from its industry association rather than accept findings that its behaviour was unethical and that it should be sanctioned. The action undermines the future of self-regulation in the pharmaceutical industry.

Smith Kline & French Laboratories (Australia) Ltd (SK&F) promoted its vaccine for hepatitis B direct to schools this year and implied that all children were at risk of infection.

The company was criticised for promoting a prescription substance direct to the public and for presenting unbalanced information about risk factors.

The Australian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (APMA), which regulates promotion in the industry and has been reviewing complaints about SK&F’s vaccine promotion, told the company last week it would have to send a retraction letter to schools involved, saying it had overstated the need for vaccination. The APMA would also publish information about this in the Medical Journal.

Instead of agreeing to the sanctions, the company resigned from the APMA, effectively removing itself from its power.

SK&F’s schools promotion breached the APMA’s code of conduct, the association found .

APMA’s chief executive officer, Mr Kerry Bell, said yesterday the company’s resignation was “an inappropriate response” to a decision by its peers.

The managing director of SK&F, Mr Robert Mansfield, was unavailable for comment last night.

In his resignation letter, he said the self-regulatory process had“degenerated to an alarming level” and had “reached an unacceptable level of acrimony and duplicity”.

The APMA had “allowed external influences to intrude to the point where balanced judgment and fairness are being denied”.


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