The British medical trade association has suspended Roche for 6 months and accused it of bringing discredit on the industry

Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has been suspended from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) for six months after being accused of bringing ‘discredit on the pharmaceutical industry’.

The action is as a result of activities between 2003 and 2005 held to be in breach of the ABPI’s Code of Conduct.

‘The highest possible ethical standards are required by the pharmaceutical industry in all its activities. Breaches of the Code are viewed seriously and this is reflected by the suspension,’ said Chris Brinsmead, president of the ABPI.

A complaint was made by a former Roche employee who referred to an article in the Financial Times (February 12 2008). The article alleged that Roche had sold large quantities of Xenical (a prescription only medicine for the treatment of obesity) to the operator of private diet clinics. Further the article alleged that Roche had agreed to provide £55,000 for the operator to purchase another clinic.

Regulators ruled that the supply of Xenical was inappropriate and possibly prejudicial to patient safety. Roche appealed but the finding was upheld. The appeal board also found that the £55,000 Roche offered the operator to purchase another clinic was linked to the use of Xenical.

Roche said it has accepted the rulings and taken action to prevent their recurrence.

Re-entry to the ABPI is conditional upon an audit of the company’s procedures.