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GPs outraged by PCT access ploy

A drug company has fallen foul of the pharmaceutical industry watchdog after a nurse it sponsored produced 'bogus' diabetes guidelines masquer-ading as official local policy.

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority found GlaxoSmithKline guilty of a 'serious error of judgment' after the nurse mocked up guidance on glitazones at the instigation of one of the company's drug reps.

The nurse, sponsored by an unrestricted grant from GSK, misappropriated the local NHS trust's logo and photocopied it on to guidelines that mentioned only GSK's product rosiglitazone (Avandia).

The guidelines were subsequently laminated and distributed to 45 GPs and practice nurses before they were withdrawn following a complaint from the trust.

The panel said it 'considered the conduct of the representative brought discredit upon, and reduced confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry'.

Ruling a breach of its code of practice, it said doctors 'were very concerned at bogus guidelines being distributed'.

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP honorary secretary, said: 'This case clearly reinforces the importance of having codes of practice and the importance of appropriate training for staff to appreciate why such codes are in place.'

Dr Peter Fellows, chair of the GPC prescribing sub-committee, said: 'There is a degree of concern about nurses being sponsored, particularly with the pressures GPs are under to meet quality targets. It can be very labour intensive and if the pharmaceutical industry offers to send in a nurse GPs should be cautious.'

Dr Fellows, a GP in Lydney, Gloucestershire, added: 'Companies are not going

to do it unless there is some spin-off for their commercial product and it is inevitable that their drug will be mentioned.'

A spokeswoman for GSK said: 'GSK was extremely concerned at this serious breach of the code of practice.

'The document concerned was not approved through GSK's normal channels and the representative's actions thus represented a clear breach of our internal standard operating procedures. The representative was subject to disciplinary procedures.'

By Brian Kelly

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