The pharma industry could face a series of lawsuits by manufacturers of promotional gifts as new rules look to ban the items from next year.
The legal threat has been issued by the European Promotional Product Association (EPPA), a trade body, which has written to EU competition authorities claiming the move violates antitrust law.
It adds that it also threatens the livelihood of its several thousand members producing pens, notepads, and USB memory sticks handed out by drug company marketing representatives.
It is estimated that the deals between EPPA members and the industry generate around €500 million a year in the sales.
Hans Poulis, head of EPPA, told the Financial Times: “We are not happy with this initiative. We are pretty sure that giving away a quite cheap ball pen or sticky notes will not have an impact on prescribing a certain brand.”
This comes as new regulations from the pharma lobby group EFPIA will stop the distribution of promotional items from next year. In recent times these gifts have included company and medicine logos stamped on pens, notepads and clothing, which are all aimed at doctors attending scientific conferences.