Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let the sun shine in

Push to reveal fees paid to doctors

A PROPOSED revision to the pharmaceutical industry's code of conduct requires pharma companies to reveal total payments to doctors, but critics say individual payments should be disclosed.

Under the proposed changes being considered by the competition regulator, industry body Medicines Australia will publish aggregate details of fees paid by its members to doctors and consultants from mid-2014.

The fees include ''all consultancy services provided in relation to education meetings, preparation of promotional materials or product position papers, chairing and speaking at educational meetings, assistance with training and participation in advisory boards or other therapy advice.

''The public disclosure of aggregate fees paid to consultants includes all payments in respect of hospitality, accommodation (both within and outside Australia) and any travel undertaken within or outside Australia where the hospitality, travel and accommodation was associated with the provision of the consulting services.''

In its submissions to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Medical Association and some drug companies rejected the idea of disclosing individual payments. Roche said it did not want to move ahead of the industry; Sanofi said full disclosure would hurt the ''quality and quantity of medical education''; GlaxoSmithKline said that while it was an advocate of the idea, it believed including it in this edition of the code ''would be premature without garnering the views of all parties affected as well as looking closely at the practicalities of this disclosure''.

The AMA said individual disclosure could lead to the public making ''incorrect judgments about the independence of a medical practitioner'' and to a practitioner's reluctance to take part in ''legitimate activities with pharmaceutical companies that in fact have a public benefit''.

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