Bayer, Eli Lilly and Chiesi have been cited for breaches of the Code of Practice set out by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

The Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, which operates the ABPI code, says that the three have each breached Clause 2 of the Code, "bringing discredit upon, and reducing confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry." and Bayer has also been publicly reprimanded.

First up, Bayer was ruled in breach of clause 4.1 - "failing to include prescribing information" - for being involved in the generation and distribution of a prescribing policy document on its erectile dysfunction drug Levitra (vardenafil) that was described as being "supported by an educational grant". It was found that material was circulated more widely than previously indicated and the firm was reprimanded for failing to provide comprehensive information to the PMCPA.

Bayer was also ruled in breach of a number of clauses relating to the promotion of its contraceptive Yasmin (drospirenone/ethinylestradiol). These were clause 2 - "bringing discredit upon, and reducing confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry", clause 3.2 - "encouraging prescribers to consider prescribing Yasmin for reasons other than its licensed indication", clause 7.2 - "making misleading claims" and clause 7.9 - "underplaying the side-effects of Yasmin".

The PMCPA also rebuked Chiesi for providing a clinical support service that it knew doctors were being encouraged locally to use to effect a switch programme, from GlaxoSmithKline's asthma treatment Seretide (salmeterol and fluticasone) to the Italy-based drugmaker's Fostair ((beclometasone /formoterol). Chiesi was ruled to have breached clause 2, as well as clause 9.1 - "failing to maintain high standards" and clause 18.4 - "failing to provide a genuine therapeutic review that included a comprehensive range of relevant treatment choices".

For providing "inappropriate hospitality to two health professionals",  Lilly was ruled in breach of clauses 2 and 9.1, as well as clause 15.2 - "representatives failing to maintain a high standard of ethical conduct" and clause 19.1, which deals with excessive hospitality.