EU – The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, EFPIA, published its new transparency code on July 2, 2013, which had been formally approved at the general meeting on June 24. According to the press release posted on the EFPIA website, Article 10 of the old code, which governed the implementation of “gifts”, has been deleted. According to this article, promotional products up to the value of five Euros were hitherto permissible.
Article 10 has been replaced by the following modification: “No gift or pecuniary advantage (in cash or benefit in kind) may be supplied, offered or promised to a healthcare professional.“ As such the code no longer differentiates between “inexpensive” – and thus “permissible“ – and “forbidden gifts“, it quite simply bans the implementation of “gifts” altogether. According to a further modification, which is to be included in the code as a new article, the provision of informative or educational material directly relevant to the practice of medicine or pharmacy; and directly beneficial to the care of patients, is permitted provided that it is “inexpensive”. “Items of medical utility“, which are used to directly provide information to people employed in health care or which serve to enhance the well-being of the patient, are also allowed as long as they are “inexpensive“. There are only very few promotional products that fall under this category.
The modifications will be included in the code and will come into force as planned on January 1, 2014. OTC items and products without advertising imprints that are implemented at congresses and conferences for example, are excluded from this regulation.
As the German Promotional Products Umbrella Association (GWW) announced, its commissioned law firm has checked the legality of the new provisions of the code and has sent a corresponding letter to the European Commission in this regard. In this letter the GWW explains in detail and gives a legal justification as to why the EFPIA’s course of action violates competition law, and finally that the ban on the implementation of give-aways should be checked and prohibited.
The European umbrella association EPPA has since also sent letters to the EU Commissioners Karel de Gucht (Trade) and Antonio Tajani (Companies and Industry) and most recently to Joaquin Almunia, Commissioner of the Directorate General Competition. According to the EPPA, the latter is currently checking whether the above measure violates EU law.