Transparency in the Marketing of Pharmaceuticals

Kudos to PhRMA, the leading trade association for the pharmaceutical research and biotech industry, for raising the bar on ethical standards for marketing medicines and interacting with health professionals via its revised “Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals.” Key revisions and additions to the 2008 Code include standards to:

  • Eliminate “gifts” to physicians, only allowing for items of educational value to patients or healthcare professionals.
  • Prohibit out-of-office meals from sales representatives.
  • Enhance the independence of “Continuing Medical Education” funded by companies.
  • Set guidelines on the use of prescriber data, supporting appropriate use of the data, allowing for physician opt-out, and providing a contact for physicians.
  • Require training and monitoring of sales representatives to maintain the highest ethical standards.
  • Require company CEOs and Compliance Officers to certify annually that they have policies and procedures in place to foster compliance with the Code (patterned after the Sarbanes-Oxley standard).
  • Provide a venue on the PhRMA website for patients and providers to learn where to voice concerns and view a list of companies that have signed onto the Code.
  • Create a more transparent speaker and consultant relationship by requiring disclosure of relationships with industry and requiring each company to cap the amount of annual compensation an individual physician speaker can receive.

A copy of the press release can be found here.

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