Cash-for-access stirs trouble in UK

A manager at the Central Manchester Primary Care Trust sent a letter to pharma companies that asked them to pay into a "training fund" to get access to key physicians, according to

    The letter, signed by Karen O'Brien, associate director of chronic disease and medicine management at Central Manchester Primary Care Trust, was sent out to all drug companies on December 22 last year. It starts by staying sales reps are barred from entering any GP practice in Central Manchester.


    Ms O'Brien wrote: "Drug representatives will not be allowed to provide sponsored lunches, conferences, and samples or enter PCT properties without permission."

    But the letter goes on to offer structured meetings in return for cash gifts to the training fund. "From April 1, 2006 we will request that the Drug Industry Companies contribute to the fund.

    "As a contributor you will have to opportunity to attend organised training/education events," Ms O'Brien added.

    Neither the pharmaceutical companies nor the PCT would say exactly how much they were expected to pay, but the money was designed to pay for courses.

Officials from the Central Manchester Primary Care Trust say it's all a misunderstanding, and "the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries, which represents major drug companies, said: 'We became aware of the letter after it went out and expressed concern to the primary care trust that it potentially contravenes our code of practice.'"

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