The catalogue of freebies includes Pfizer providing hospitality to dozens of doctors attending a meeting at the five-star Gleneagles hotel resort in Scotland, and a dinner meeting between three Eli Lilly staff and two nurses at which 22 alcoholic drinks were consumed. Cephalon, which makes drugs targeted at central nervous system disorders, pain and cancer, was criticised for providing inappropriate hospitality to 13 healthcare professionals during a medical congress in Lisbon, Portugal.
The PMCPA found that the impression of a "general party atmosphere, recorded on camera, was wholly unacceptable". The world's biggest drug companies could now find themselves the target of investigation by Britain's fraud watchdog over allegations that they have been influencing NHS staff with lavish travel junkets and hospitality.
The Serious Fraud Office SFO will use new powers obtained this weekend to investigate a range of claims that doctors, nurses and NHS managers are being swayed in their drug-purchasing decisions by "excessive" wining and dining. The SFO warned this weekend that it will use powers introduced in the Bribery Act — which came into force on Friday — to investigate any claims where the entertaining of doctors, nurses and NHS managers go beyond "sensible proportionate promotional expenditure".
Pharmaceutical industry representatives insist that companies followed a strict code to ensure their relationships with health professionals were "transparent, ethical and appropriate". Despite industry claims that the investment helps to drive up standards by broadening the experience of individual professionals, concerns about the largesse are increasing.
Dr Richard Oliver, of NHS Sheffield, said yesterday: "GPs have been canvassed for their views on the use of pharmaceutical sponsorship for such events and many took the view that if it helps spread NHS money further then it is acceptable. GSK, like all companies, has to abide by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry [ABPI] code — this means that they cannot be seen to push their products at events such as these.
How to get free baby stuff and samples - MadeForMums
Professor Tim Kendall, of the Sheffield NHS foundation trust, said: "Using drugs reps and funding research is just part of a strategy to make money. The ABPI recently changed its code of practice: from , firms must collect and declare annually total amounts paid to health professionals and others for services such as speaker fees and participation on advisory boards. Companies will also be required to declare sponsorship for attendance at meetings organised by third parties. A memorandum of understanding between the three, released last month, highlights how the SFO is poised to act against breaches of the code.
It states: "The SFO and others agree that sensible proportionate promotional expenditure is entirely legitimate and not outlawed by the Bribery Act", but it adds that while the organisation "will not routinely intervene in matters covered by the code", it "reserves the right to take action if the issue is deemed serious enough to merit SFO investigation". Companies that breach the code face public reprimand and, in extreme cases, can be suspended or expelled from the trade body.
In one of the most serious breaches, the US-based firm Abbott Laboratories was suspended for six months in after it emerged that employees of the company paid for doctors to visit lap-dancing clubs, a greyhound stadium and Wimbledon. The company said a "narrow silo" within the company failed to uphold its ethical standards, and admitted that three employees had left the company. Dr Joanna Moncrieff, at the Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College London, said: "Any level of hospitality for doctors provided by drug companies is an issue because it is bribery — it's an inducement to prescribe a particular drug that has nothing to do with the therapeutic merits of the drug concerned.
The ABPI's chief executive, Stephen Whitehead, said: "Everyone, including patients, benefits from industry and medical professions working together to tackle healthcare problems and improve outcomes for patients. A Department of Health spokeswoman said all public servants work under clear guidelines on the acceptance of gifts.
She added: "In addition, the General Medical Council has guidance for doctors on financial dealings and conflicts of interest. Concerns over the influence of drug companies had been raised in Parliament over several years, said Labour MP Paul Flynn, but successive governments had failed to rein them in. A spokesman for Bristol-Myers Squibb said: "Any hospitality that is provided by staff in relation to scientific meetings, congresses or continuing medical education, is strictly monitored and approved internally to ensure that it in no way breaches the [ABPI's] strict code of practice.
An Eli Lilly spokesman said: "As a member and an active voice within this trade body, Lilly supports the ABPI's response on behalf of the companies it represents. A spokesman for GSK said: "All our actions are governed by strict codes of conduct and we believe educational events such as these advance doctors' knowledge and bring about improvements in patient care. Pfizer said the company would not comment beyond the ABPI statement.
Cephalon and Sanofi-Aventis were unavailable for comment. Complaint Paid for delegates to attend a pain congress in Lisbon in Complaint In April a former employee reported a restaurant meeting in between three staff and two nurses. The hospitality "had been excessive". Complaint Flew 17 delegates business class to a meeting in Canada last October. The company had reported the lapse, blaming it on "a breakdown in internal communication".
Complaint Held a meeting to promote arthritis drug Celebrex at the five-star Gleneagles hotel in Scotland in March Report said this meeting at "a renowned, deluxe venue, including an overnight stay for most delegates", gave an "inappropriate" impression. Pfizer successfully appealed the ruling. Complaint Claims of "excessive hospitality" at meetings in Paris and San Francisco. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?
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Yes, they may be a little slower and a lot more nervous than your usual chap, but they won't charge you for it and it will all be overseen by their tutors. Try your nearest dental schools for details. Some online photographic printing firms give away a number of free prints if you open an account — very handy if you are planning an event that you need a lot of prints from. They don't need to train as long as dentists, but masseurs and hair stylists also need to learn their trade.
Your local salon or beauty school will let you know which days they practise on live subjects. Many churches, concert halls or music schools hold free concerts during the day. Check out other free events at free-events. File-sharing website Napster. Go to healthystart. Johnson and Johnson gives away samples of Baby Soothing Naturals skin cream. Go to jnj. They will give you the prescription, which you can use in any shop you like. Visit bootshealthclub. Most DVD-by-post clubs offer free trials of up to 90 days.
You join up, create a list of films you want to see and they post them to you. Switch clubs to get more trials — Freedvdtrials.
Freebies and discounts for over-55s
From operating systems such as Linux from linux. Being in the test audience for a new film means you get to see if before anybody else — even the critics. Sign up at seefilmfirst. That's enough for a return to much of Europe with BA and no taxes to pay. But you do need to book at least one night in a hotel through the Airmiles website. Some car showrooms offer extended test drives. These can be for 48 hours, which is enough for a weekend trip somewhere, or if you have to transport a big item — or if you want to impress a date.
Try skipping for 20 to 30 seconds, marching on the spot for 30 seconds, and then repeat.
A guide to and directory of free stuff
As your fitness improves, you can increase the time you skip for. The free equipment can be used to do various exercises, including step-ups, sit-ups, lunges and press-ups, to develop balance, strength and co-ordination. Ask your local council if there's a trim trail in your area.
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- Drugs firms lavished millions on freebies for NHS staff | The Independent.
Improve your health and the environment at the same time with the outdoor alternative to the gym. Experienced leaders guide volunteers through a range of practical projects, giving you the opportunity to tackle physical jobs in the outdoors. Look around you: the world is your gym.
The day plan has been designed to ease people into an outdoors regime where exercise is fun rather than a chore. No equipment is needed. Military-style fitness classes are happening in parks up and down the country. There's no reason why you can't create your own boot camp-style workout for free and without someone barking orders at you.
Do a bit of research online to make sure you're doing the exercises correctly before starting out. People often give away fitness gear, such as weights, skipping ropes or exercise balls. Search regularly and you might get lucky. Another option is to swap your own unwanted exercise gear for some different sports equipment using websites like Swapz. The idea of walking up to a group of strangers during a game of football and asking to join in may sound slightly unnerving but, provided you can work up the bottle, this is both an excellent way to get fit and make friends.
Choose a group of players of a similar age and ability who seem like they're just starting their game.