Roche's $65,000 Dinner For Australian Doctors

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In July 2006 journalist Ray Moynihan revealed that Roche had spent approximately $65,000 on a dinner for 300 doctors.

The Medicines Australia Code of Conduct states in the "Relationship with Healthcare Professionals" section 10.2 that "Any hospitality offered by Companies to health care professionals should be Simple, modest, secondary to the educational content and provided in an environment that enhances education and learning. The venue and location at which a company provides hospitality to health care professionals must be conducive to education and learning and must not be chosen for its leisure or recreational facilities. A Company must not subsidise or pay for the costs of family or companions of attendees at educational meetings." [1] (Pdf)

In the accompanying explanatory note, the code states that "The choice of venues in locations emphasising leisure and sporting facilities is prohibited. The choice of venues primarily used for sporting, cultural or artistic activities should be carefully scrutinised to ensure no entertainment is being provided either directly or indirectly. Meals or any other hospitality provided by companies at an educational meeting should not differ to that expected at any professional business meeting and should reflect the professional standing of the audience." [2] (Pdf)

Fined for Feast

The global drug company, Roche has been fined $A75,000 for breaching a provision of the Australian drug industry's voluntary code of conduct which requires that meals given to doctors at company events should be "simple and modest". An investigation into the complaint - lodged by the Australian government drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration - followed the July 2006 revelations in the British Medical Journal and The Australian that the company had spent in the order of $A65,000 entertaining approximately 300 cancer specialists at the Guillaume restaurant in the Sydney Opera House. A majority of the members of a committee hosted by the peak drug industry lobby group, Medicines Australia, which oversees the code of conduct, found (pdf) that Roche's entertainment for doctors "brought the industry into disrepute." A minority of the committee "did not consider the hospitality provided ... to be excessive". Roche did not appeal against the decision.

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