To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) whether his Department has established any inquiries into bribery by the pharmaceutical and drug sector related to treatment in the NHS in the last 30 years;
(2) what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department of the recent fining of UK pharmaceutical companies for bribing doctors in the US to prescribe anti-depressants to (a) children and (b) adults; and if he will make a statement.
No such inquiries have been established by the Department.
In the United Kingdom, the advertising of medicines is controlled by a combination of statutory measures (with both criminal and civil sanctions), enforced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and self-regulation through Codes of Practice for the pharmaceutical industry, administered by trade associations.
In addition, under the Bribery Act 2010, it is a criminal offence for an individual to give or receive a bribe. It is also a corporate offence if a business operating in the UK is found to have failed to prevent bribery.
The MHRA carried out an exhaustive investigation in 2008 into GlaxoSmithKline's compliance with legal obligations to report key safety information and on its promotion of unlicensed uses of Seroxat. That investigation concluded that the company could, and should, have communicated safety information sooner than they did but that the law was not sufficiently clear to support legal action. In response, both the UK legislation and European law on reporting requirements have been strengthened.