We address this urgent notice directly to you today to provide timely information to you as a PSI member. The European umbrella organisation of the pharmaceutical industry intends to pass a decision on 24/25 June banning any and all use of promotional products. It was only thanks to its good supplier relationship with the pharmaceutical industry that the PSI heard of this in good time. Even the associations who we, as the PSI, are a member of were only informed indirectly about the situation.
Meanwhile, the associations and the PSI have swung into action. The GWV immediately called a telephone conference during which all stakeholders coordinated their activities. Arguments were gathered to reason with the pharmaceutical industry to reverse its intention. On 16 May, the representatives of European associations (including GWW and PSI) will meet with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry in Frankfurt. On 23 May, GWW chairman Patrik Politze will have an informal meeting with one of the members of EFPIA in Berlin. Currently, investigations are also under way to find out about the positions held by individual member companies of that association. It may be assumed that the American companies active in Europe wish to ban any such use, in line with the American model. Once we have identified the suitable contacts, we must look for ways to raise the subject with them.
We urge anybody maintaining any contacts into any of those companies to bring about a dialogue between the marketing side and those in charge of association matters in those companies. It is vital to convey, through discussions, that this industry is unnecessarily depriving itself of a highly effective promotional tool. Unnecessarily, because giveaways are not viewed critically in any quarter – not in the media, not by the tax authorities, not by politicians. Quite the opposite: in election campaigning, politicians use millions of giveaways themselves. Furthermore, there are effectiveness studies done by very reputable market researchers proving very clearly that promotional articles are a highly effective advertising medium (documentation available from the associations and from the PSI).
All of us must proceed very diplomatically at this stage to avoid an outright rejection of any discussion at all from the pharmaceutical industry. Insults and insinuations are entirely counterproductive in this situation. This remark is meant for all those who may already have sent out “angry letters”. We are optimistic that we will succeed in bringing about discussions. At this stage, there is no way of telling whether these will be effective or not. However, the extreme secrecy with which the pharmaceutical industry has surrounded the issue is an indication that they intend to go through with this ban.
We at any rate will do everything in our power to prevent this. We should be very glad of any helpful contacts you may have. We are looking forward to your support and assistance.
We hope we were at least able to be of help to you by bringing you up to date on the state of activities.
The United Kingdom has of course previously banned the advertising of and use of promotional products for prescription pharmaceuticals and a voluntary ban exists in the USA.