The PAGB Professional Code for Medicines does not cover advertising relating to the prescribing of a medicinal product. These activities are covered by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Code of Practice, which is administered by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority. The ABPI Code also applies to advertising designed to encourage the issue of a prescription for a medicine where the medicine is available both for purchase and for prescription.
The PAGB Professional Code for Medicines does not cover the advertising of over-the-counter medicines aimed wholly or mainly at the public. This is covered by the PAGB Consumer Code.
A genuine photograph of a pack is not in itself subject to the PAGB Professional Code for Medicines and does not necessitate the inclusion of essential information. This is despite the fact that there are product claims, including medicinal claims, on the pack. (Please refer to section 5 for definitions.)
Similarly, the Code does not apply to the provision of a pack shot for purely editorial purposes where the company has no control over the final text used. This applies even where payment is made to the journal for the incorporation of the pack shot.
Advertisements that do not contain product claims (other than those on a genuine pack shot) are not subject to the PAGB Professional Code for Medicines and do not require the inclusion of essential information. A therapeutic category may be mentioned without necessitating the inclusion of essential information. (Please refer to section 1.5.14.).
Informative announcements and reference materials such as details of pack changes, adverse reaction warnings, trade catalogues and price lists are not considered to be advertisements, provided they do not include medicinal claims. (Please refer to section 2.1.1) Listings within publications such as PAGB’s ‘OTC Directory’, ‘Chemist & Druggist Monthly Price List’ etc. are, therefore, not subject to the PAGB Professional Code for Medicines. If medicinal claims are made other than those appearing on a true representation of a pack or as a straightforward representation of the indications the Code will apply to those claims and essential information will be required. Advertisements within trade catalogues and price lists must comply with Code requirements.
Publications produced by wholesalers for retail pharmacists, etc. are outside the scope of this Code.
PAGB recognises that the PAGB Professional Code for Medicines cannot cover public relations activities (e.g. press releases and product launches) once the material is passed to a journalist. It is unlikely that such activities will be completely under the company’s control or that materials such as press releases will not be changed by journalists who use the material. However, member companies should note that PR is covered by Part 14 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, and ensure that all PR materials comply with the Professional Code and the law at the point when the company relinquishes editorial control.
Responses to correspondence and enquiries from persons qualified to prescribe or supply and appropriate administrative staff are exempt from the PAGB Professional Code for Medicines. Standard letters intended for use in response to enquiries are not subject to the PAGB Professional Code for Medicines, provided they are used only when they relate directly and solely to the particular enquiry. Similarly, the Code does not apply to responses made to specific communications, such as letters or articles published in professional journals. All such responses should be accurate, should not mislead and should stick to the subject of the original enquiry or comment. Care must be taken that such replies do not have the appearance of advertising; otherwise they will fall under the Code and require essential information.
Note: Please refer to section 2.1, for definitions of ‘product claims’ and ‘medicinal claims’.
This Code does not cover product labels, packaging materials and in-pack leaflets. PAGB has a separate code covering pack design, the ‘PAGB Code of Practice for Pack Design for Over-the-Counter Medicines’.
Statements relating to human health or disease are not covered by this Code provided there is no reference, either directly or indirectly, to specific medicines.