On Friday, Abbott Laboratories was suspended from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry for at least six months for violating the ABPI Code of Practice. According to this article in the Financial Times, the company got in trouble because three employees tooks docs to a strip club, a greyhound track, and Wimbledon. Obviously, these were not the type of hospitality allowed under ABPI rules.
- The judgment, triggered by a "concerned member of the industry", found that in January and September 2004, Abbott employees inappropriately invited groups of doctors to a greyhound stadium in Manchester while racing was taking place
It criticised an event in February, when an Abbott manager borrowed £1,000 from a company drug representative to pay for their attendance along with a doctor at a lap dancing club at the end of a two-day medical workshop.
It also found in breach of its code an invitation over the summer by an Abbott manager to senior London hospital consultants to centre court at Wimbledon and full hospitality and two managers' invitations for a Christmas dinner for a hospital department at which both arrived late and drunk.
Vincent Lawton, head of Merck UK and president of the ABPI, said: "The pharmaceutical industry strives to maintain the highest possible ethical standards in all its dealings with health professionals. The breaches that have been identified are viewed in a very serious light."
The ABPI itself launched a tougher new code of conduct at the start of this year, although it still shies away from fines, resolving that public reprimands of companies are punishment enough.
I would think that this article probably was more damaging to the company than the suspension of membership, but I don't know much about how the system works in the U.K.