Direct Complaints vs Inter-Company Dialogue

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In a recently completed case filed against Pfizer, an interesting note was made in the case report regarding the anonymity of the complainant, who was described as a consultant to a pharmaceutical company.

‘It had previously been decided, following consideration by the then Code of Practice Committee and the ABPI Board of Management, that private complaints from pharmaceutical company employees had to be accepted.  To avoid this becoming a means of circumventing the normal procedures for intercompany complaints, the employing company would be named in the report.  The complainant would be advised that this would happen and be given an opportunity to withdraw the complaint.

The principles set out above were applied to this complaint.  Consultancy status should not be used to circumvent the normal rules for inter-company complaints.’ (Case AUTH/2931/1/17)

The consultant decided to proceed with the complaint and therefore the company they were working for, Novartis, was named, making it potentially easier to identify who the complainant might have been. This could be problematic, as the same consultant also seemed to have lodged complaints against several other pharmaceutical companies at the same time, as many stemmed from the same issue of Pulse magazine. However, we cannot state this definitively.

What’s interesting about this clause is that ostensibly it has been put into place by the PMCPA to avoid people circumventing the normal procedures for inter-company complaints. However, will it help to do so, or is it simply giving a green light for others to complain directly to the PMCPA without discussing issues internally within their own company? A consultant is perhaps more easily identified than one staff member among many and so, even though their company will be named, some may see this as an opportunity to make complaints directly, thereby bypassing inter-company dialogue and potentially generating more of the type of complaint that inter-company dialogue was designed to avoid.

Whatever the case may be, we’ll be watching this development with interest.

For more information about the case cited, click here.

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