PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES must not use well-known venues that are renowned for their entertainment or other leisure activities to promote their products to health professionals, new guidelines have stated.
The updated code of marketing practice for the industry has set out strict criteria for the promotion of new drugs to health professionals.
Corporate hospitality involving sporting, entertainment or social events or activities must not be extended to healthcare professionals.
Neither must promotional meetings be held to coincide with sporting or entertainment events.
It acknowledges that the pharmaceutical companies frequently have meetings with groups of doctors, consultants or nurses about new drugs and initiatives in healthcare and that the industry has often sponsored independent meetings intended to update their medical education.
“Such support and assistance must, however, always be such as to leave healthcare professionals’ independence of judgment manifestly unimpaired,” it states.
Companies should not hold events abroad unless it is absolutely necessary to do so and foreign professionals are also attending. Travel expenses are not to be extended to spouses or partners unless those persons are healthcare professionals themselves who are involved in the field. Companies can, however, provide corporate hospitality if it is a bona fide charity event.
It also states that health professionals should not receive more than four medical samples of a particular new medicine per year. Sampling cannot extend to any mind-altering drugs such as sedatives or anti-depressants.
Pharmaceutical companies must also declare for the first time in clear language the support they give to patients’ associations.
Consultants who have entered contractual arrangements with companies or are employed on a part-time basis while still practising their profession, should be “strongly encouraged” to declare their arrangements with the company.
The guidelines are to ensure that Irish-based pharmaceutical companies comply with the updated European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations regulations.
Irish Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association (IPHA) scientific and regulatory affairs manager Dr Rebecca Cramp said research-based pharmaceutical companies were expected to comply with not only the letter but the spirit of the law.
She said the code goes further than the legislation in ensuring high standards. “ The fact that it is broadly sweeping is very restrictive,” she explained.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Strict criteria for drug firms - The Irish Times