New Code brings greater transparency to doctor-pharma relationships

Medicines Australia (MA) has announced that from 1 October this year, it’s members will be required to report payments made by companies to health care professionals for the provision of services; a move that’s been welcomed by integrative health professionals on the Gold Coast.

The new Code has been developed after a two-year consultation period with industry  and has been authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as part of a “global industry effort to improve accountability and transparency”.

Matthew Bellgrove from National Custom Compounding at Merrimac welcomed the introduction of the new Code saying it would help re-establish trust in the pharmaceutical and health industries.

“Making relationships between drug manufacturers and health care professionals open and transparent will enable patients to make informed decisions about their own healthcare. It’s patients who benefit most from this information being made available.”

“Currently only member of MA must abide by the new Code, and we applaud them for this courageous step forward, however we’d like to see this measure adopted across all health sectors.”

The new strongly-worded Code of Conduct also requires MA members to report support they may have received for educational purposes through airfares, accommodation of registration fees.

Matthew said symposia and conferences sponsored by drug manufacturers were an important way for health care professionals to learn about the latest in life changing therapies.

“And now this new Code will require this professional development to be reported, leading to improved patient outcomes.”

The sector-led initiative was developed collaboratively with health care professionals representing the broad spectrum of the healthcare sector and has been designed to, “…describe the values and ethical principles that should form the basis of collaboration and interaction among organisations within our sector.”

CEO of MA, Ms Liz de Somer, said she encouraged consumers to talk to their doctors if they wanted to learn more about their relationships with different pharmaceutical companies and the outcomes for patient health.

“We have voluntarily submitted ourselves to this significant transparency disclosure because we are proud of the role we play in educating medical practitioners and consumers,” Ms de Sommer said, “This is despite the fact that non-Medicines Australia members are not required to abide by the same rigorous code of conduct.”