Doctors, pharma industries urged to stick to their code of ethics (Feature)

October 30, 2012 10:21 pm 

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Oct. 30 — Doctors must never perpetuate any wrongdoing that will be detrimental to the patient. Their endpoint must always be the patient's well-being.

That, in a nutshell, was the main issue addressed by doctors from the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), along with the importance of the code of ethics for all medical practitioners to adhere to, in a health forum in Quezon City on Tuesday.

Also discussed in the forum was the perceived common, yetalmost undetermined practice, by some doctors to prescribe medicines from specific pharmaceutical industries owing to the favors they receive from such companies.

PHAP consultant Francisco Tranquilino told the forum that the Mexico City Declaration, which gathered representatives from different countries in September last year to draft the business sector guidelines on the bio-pharmaceutical area, will bring the country a step closer to resolving the issue.

Dr. Tranquilino, who was also a representative for the Mexico City principles formulation, explained that the declaration is a set of guiding principles which will be adopted by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries to govern the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and physicians.

“This was drafted because according to the formulators of the Mexico City Declaration, the small- and medium-scale industries are important industries in the APEC member countries,” Tranquilino said.

“If there is graft and corruption or bribery in this sector, then it will affect tremendously the economies of these countries as well as the conduct of business by the bio-pharmaceutical sector,” he added.

For his part, Dr. Arthur Catli, PHAP director and former executive director of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), cited that in cases where doctors get too "close" with people from the pharmaceutical industry, a great part of the setup is responsible for the increase of prices of medicines.

“For the longest time, I was introduced into a culture wherein the success of a doctor is measured by the number of times a pharmaceutical company sends you abroad, for the number of times a medical representative sends and picks you up from work, for the number of gifts pharmaceutical companies send,” Catli said.

“The reason why we want to emphasize on ethical professional practices is because based on the doctor’s oath, the number one person to be taken into consideration should be the patient,” he stressed. “All our decisions should be based on our unbiased knowledge about medicine.”

Catli, who is also a practicing cardiologist, stressed that nobody has really stepped forward to address the issue for a long time. On the other hand, he also said that doctors cannot be blamed for such method, since not all of them are well-off.

“Efforts need to be exerted to modify the medical curriculum,” Catli said, explaining that with an omnibus act on health care enacted, it would modify the medical curriculum to include professional ethical conducts.

“[This] would guide the doctor on how he or she conducts himself in relation to the people around him: pharmaceutical industries, patients, regulators, co-doctors and other people around,” he said.

“We are trying our best to inculcate with our member companies to adhere to the spirit of the Mexico City Declaration (and the PHAP code) to ensure that at least on one side of the spectrum, there would be no givers on the side of the pharmaceutical (industries),” Catli said.

“That in itself is already telling the message to our partner doctors that we, as an association and as an industry, would not be in a position to perpetuate any wrongdoing that will be to the detriment of the patient. After all, our endpoint will be to the patient’s well-being,” he added.

According to Catli, despite an existing code, "it will really depend on the transformation and evolution of the society, association and the members thereof in order to make sure that we look after our patients."

“There has to come a time where doctors make a firm stand towards an oath that they took when they first became doctors,” he said. (PNA)



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