The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry is consulting on its proposed Code of Practice for 2021, which supports industry to operate in a professional, ethical and transparent manner. ABPI president Haseeb Ahmad explains how healthcare professionals come into contact with the Code, so it is important to contribute their views.

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Like the NHS, pharmaceutical companies are in the privileged position of helping to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives. We develop, deliver and promote medicines and want to do it in the right way.

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That means companies conducting themselves to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and transparency. The ABPI Code of Practice is the framework for these standards.

And if anyone has any concerns about the activities of a pharmaceutical company, they should raise them with the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority.

The ABPI Code applies to every aspect of industry work, with one of the most important areas being the interactions companies have with healthcare professionals and organisations. The Code sets out standards for those in the industry to ensure that these interactions are appropriate and transparent, to support high-quality patient care.

Here are two examples.

Disclosure UK

Every year, thousands of NHS organisations and healthcare professionals work with pharmaceutical companies to improve healthcare and develop the medicines and vaccines of tomorrow. Healthcare professionals may do this in their own time and many get paid for their expertise.

This needs to be a transparent process, so payments and benefits given are required to be published by the pharmaceutical companies on Disclosure UK - a public, online, searchable database. Under UK privacy laws, pharmaceutical companies may ask healthcare professionals for their consent to add their information to the Disclosure UK database. We encourage everyone to say yes.

Find out more in our leaflet.


For many healthcare organisations, the most obvious contact with the pharmaceutical industry is when they are visited by a pharmaceutical company representative. All representatives must have sufficient scientific knowledge to allow them to provide full and accurate information about the medicines they promote.

A rigorous ABPI exam must be taken by all representatives working for companies who have agreed to abide by the ABPI Code of Practice; almost all operating in the UK. Representatives must at all times maintain a high standard of ethical conduct and comply with all relevant requirements of the ABPI Code.

The Code governs how often they visit and crucially, demands that the information they provide is fair, balanced and backed by evidence.

Consultation on the proposed 2021 ABPI Code of Practice

Proposals for the next update of the Code are out for consultation. Because the Code is relevant to healthcare professionals too, we really want to hear your views.

Have your say on the consultation here – we welcome responses by 8 September. Your input will help us operate in the most effective way possible and continue to make a positive difference to patients.