Ethics in pharma industry and dealings with doctors

March 4, 2012 12:57 pm 

MANILA, March 3 – Offering of personal gifts by pharmaceutical companies to doctors, nurses or any healthcare professionals will soon be "practice of the past" .

Expect this as implementation of the Expanded Code of Practice for pharmaceutical industry seeks to raise public confidence that all its interactions with healthcare professionals, medical institutions and patient organizations are ethical, professional and appropriate.

The Expanded Code of Practice which was developed by the Geneva-based International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), is expected to be implemented by Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP).

“Interactions between the medical community and pharmaceutical industry are crucial to advance medical knowledge and improve public health. In all these interactions, integrity as well as the healthcare and well-being of Filipino patients are our priority,” said PHAP executive director Reiner W. Gloor. “Our adherence to the revised Code exemplifies our commitment to continue building trust with the healthcare community and the patients.”

Under the code, pharmaceutical companies are expected to have high-level guiding principles for practice, a requirement for member companies to train all employees, a clear distinction between gifts, promotional aids and items of medical utility, guidance for supporting continuing medical education, a provision on disclosure of clinical trials information, and guidance for filing complaints.

The Code also continues to prohibit preapproval promotional activities for pharmaceutical products where no pharmaceutical product shall be promoted for use in the country until the requisite approval for marketing for such use has been given.

Furtheremore, the Code does not allow company-sponsored entertainment at events, and providing or offering personal gifts to healthcare professionals.

The Code stipulates that pharmaceutical companies must avoid conducting events in prestigious or luxurious venues. Instead, all events must be held in appropriate venues that are conducive to the scientific or educational objectives of the meeting. The Code similarly prohibits entertainment, leisure and social activities to healthcare professionals and other stakeholders.

The revised Code also covers any activity undertaken, organized or sponsored by a member company that is directed at healthcare professionals to promote the prescription, recommendation, supply, administration or consumption of its pharmaceutical products through all methods of communication, including the internet.

The ethical promotion of prescription medicines is vital to the pharmaceutical industry’s mission of helping patients by discovering, developing and promoting new medicines. Ethical promotion helps to ensure that healthcare professionals globally have access to information they need, that patients have access to the medicines they need and that medicines are prescribed and used in a manner that provides the maximum healthcare benefit to patients.

The Code likewise recognizes that there are important public health benefits associated with making clinical trial information available to healthcare practitioners, patients, and the general public. Industry-sponsored clinical trials (phase I and beyond) should be considered for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals irrespective of their results.

Meanwhile, PHAP also expressed its commitment to adhere to the “Mexico City Principles for Voluntary Codes of Business Ethics in the Biopharmaceutical Sector” endorsed by 21 heads of state during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summmit in Hawaii.

Also referred to as the “Mexico City Principles,” the set of ethical standards help ensure that medical decisions are made in the best interests of patients. It recognizes that ethical interactions between the biopharmaceutical sector and healthcare professionals help bolster patient care and advance the practice of medicine.

The expanded Code of Practice will take effect in September this year. All 44 member companies of PHAP are required to abide by the Code and encourages non members as well as other organizations marketing healthcare products or services to healthcare professionals or those having interactions with healthcare professionals, medical institutions and patient organizations — to follow ethical standards for promotion and interactions similar to those in the expanded IFPMA Code and the Mexico City Principles.

In the interest of patient care, PHAP calls on physicians, nurses, and other companies to ensure adherence to equally high standards of practice throughout the healthcare sector. (PNA) RSV/SDT/utb

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