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Published on 21 July 2008

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Drug firm slammed over sales tactic

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One of the largest pharmaceutical firms in the world has been criticised for bringing “discredit upon the pharmaceutical industry” over the way it sold a weight-loss drug to private slimming clinics.

Swiss medicines group Roche has been suspended for six months by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry for supplying medicine in a way that showed “disregard for patient care”.

Earlier this year, the Financial Times highlighted the manner in which Roche sold quantities of Xenical to a slimming clinic owner despite suspicions over whether he was legally qualified to purchase it. The firm was also found to have offered the owner £55,000 to buy another outlet to boost prescriptions of the drug.

The appeal board of the Prescriptions Medicines Code of Practice Authority, which monitors compliance with ethical guidelines, said the firm would be readmitted to membership only if it passed an audit in September.

Robin Huxley, owner of a Barnsley slimming clinic, was jailed for 14 months following an MHRA prosecution for illegally selling weight-loss drugs including Xenical.

Roche said in a statement that it accepted the judgment and “regrets” the breaches, adding: “…the company has already taken, and continues to take, steps to try to ensure breaches do not happen again.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry



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