The global pharmaceutical industry has expanded its code of practice to cover the activities of drugmakers and all their dealings with healthcare partners.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), which represents the research-based drugs industry, says the new code includes "high-level guiding principles for practice", a requirement for companies to train all employees and gives direction on "a clear distinction between gifts, promotional aids and items of medical utility". It also offers guidance for supporting continuing medical education, a provision on disclosure of clinical trials information and guidance for filing complaints.

IFPMA notes that the code continues to prohibit "preapproval promotional activities for pharmaceutical products, company-sponsored entertainment at events, and providing or offering personal gifts to healthcare professionals".

IFPMA president and AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan said the new code "provides a framework for the industry to act with integrity and build trust". He added that “this is not about doing the easy thing, but the right thing".

The association also called on doctors, nurses and other companies "to ensure adherence to equally high standards of practice throughout the healthcare sector". It cited Durhane Wong-Rieger, chair of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organisations, as saying that the expansion of the code is "welcome and necessary to bring greater clarity to the ethical standards that should be adhered to. The public must have trust and confidence in all healthcare decision-making".

Heather Simmonds, director of the UK's Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, which checks adherence to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's own code, was involved with the changes to the IFPMA guidance. Her organisation is looking into how the changes may impact upon the ABPI Code and a new version of the latter may be published once the consolidation of the medicines regulations by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is complete.