Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is the trade association for over 120 companies in the UK producing prescription medicines for humans, founded in 1891. It is the British equivalent of America's PhRMA; however, the member companies research, develop, manufacture and supply 80% of the medicines prescribed through the National Health Service.

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
Legal statusIndustry trade group
PurposePharmaceutical industry trade organisation
  • ABPI Head Office, 7th floor, Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London
Region served
Pharmaceutical manufacturers
Chief Executive
Mike Thompson, Stephen Whitehead (CEO, 2011)[1]


The organisation was founded in London in 1891 and originally known as the "Drug Club". A rival institution to represent wholesalers, the "Northern Wholesale Druggists' Association", was formed in 1902 and lasted until 1966.

Management and offices

A board of management of members oversee the ABPI. The Board is made up of individuals who are elected by members to represent the industry and up to five people who are co-opted by the Board. Elections commence every January for elected seats to ensure that the Board is fully representative and has access to the broadest range of skills and expertise possible.

ABPI's head office is in London with three regional offices in Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.


ABPI membership is not open to individuals, only companies. Members fall into three categories:

  • Full members who hold marketing authorization for, manufacture or supply prescription medicine for human use and undertake business in the UK
  • Research affiliate members who carry out business in the UK and are involved in research and/or development of medicines for human use, but do not have a UK sales operation, for example Contract Research Organisations (CROs) or Contract manufacturing organizations
  • General affiliate members, who operate in the UK, have a business interest in the industry and will typically provide products or services to the industry, although not producing prescription medicines, for example law firms


The ABPI represents the views of the pharmaceutical industry to government and decision makers in the UK, i.e. is a lobbying organization.

The organisation has six departments:

  • Commercial
  • Communications
  • Legal
  • Membership services
  • NHS partnerships
  • Research, medical and innovation

The Research, medical and innovation department oversees complimentary resources for schools in UK to promote links between school science subjects and their applications in industrial research.[2] The department also runs a careers website.[3] The association sponsors booklets on a range of conditions, aimed at patients, carers and healthcare professionals.

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice of the ABPI covers the promotion of medicines for prescribing to health professionals and administrative staff as well as the provision of information to the public about prescription only medicines in the UK. All ABPI member companies are obliged to comply with both the spirit and letter of the Code. The Code was first published in 1958 and undergoes revisions at least every two years.[4] It is administered by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority(PMCPA).[5]


Ben Goldacre criticised the pharmaceutical industry in his 2012 book Bad Pharma as testing itself what it manufactures in "poorly designed trials, on hoplessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments".[6] The ABPI responded that medicines were "tested against the most effective comparator where possible unless there is no current standard of care." Regarding "results that companies don’t like, [which] they are perfectly entitled to hide [..] from doctors and patients . . . academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure." the ABPI responded that it did "... not seek to “hide” trial data" and was recognising there was "still work to be done in ensuring the publication of negative trial data within journals, and in ensuring greater transparency all round within the industry".[6]

See also


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