The number of complaints to the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, which polices adherence to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s Code of Practice, jumped significantly last year.

According to the regulator’s 2016 annual report, there were 76 complaints about pharma conduct during the year, compared with 54 in 2015, which led to 100 cases, compared with 66 in 2015.

The number of individual allegations considered in 2016 was 420, compared with 198 in 2015, the PMCPA said.

Delving deeper into the detail, the percentage of complaints stemming from pharmaceutical companies was actually lower at 14 percent for 2016 compared with 22 percent in 2015, while that coming from health professionals increased slightly to 21 percent from 19 percent.

Also of note, complaints nominally attributed to the Director nearly doubled – to 15 from to eight in 2015 – but this was mostly due to a rise in the number of companies making voluntary admissions (13 versus four, respectively), which the regulator says “indicates the seriousness with which the industry takes the Code [of Practice].”

Fifty seven per cent of cases were ruled in breach in 2016, compared with 53 percent in 2015, but if based on the individual matters the percentages were similar for both years, with around 43 percent in breach of the Code.

Commenting on the report, a spokeswoman from the PMCPA said while the number of complaints received last year (57) represents a jump from those received in 2015 (54) and 2014 (51), “this is not an unprecedented number - the PMCPA Annual Report in 2013 shows we received 80 complaints, with 78 in 2012 and 84 in 2011. The important thing is that people know to contact if they have concerns.”