Stage 1: Laying the groundwork for working together

Questions for consumer health organisations

When a health consumer organisation has never worked with a pharmaceutical company before, it may be useful for the managing body (e.g. the board) to consider:

  • Have we considered the benefits and risks of working with pharmaceutical companies?
  • Should we consult directly with our members before we start working with pharmaceutical companies?
  • Are there other HCOs that already work with pharmaceutical companies that we can learn from?

If we decide to work together with one or more research-based pharmaceutical companies:

  • What will we do to ensure our independence?
  • Will any funding arrangements be perceived as inappropriate? Why?
  • How will any funding we receive affect our sustainability?
  • Who in our organisation will manage our relationship(s) with research-based pharmaceutical companies?
  • What legal advice do we need to obtain before written agreements are signed?
  • How will we handle medical and scientific information that we may receive? Can we establish or involve medical advisors to our organisation?
  • How will we publicly acknowledge our relationships with pharmaceutical companies?

Many health consumer organisations will formulate a policy or a framework for interaction on working with pharmaceutical companies that addresses these issues.

Questions for pharmaceutical companies

  • Which department(s) in our company will be involved in relationships with health consumer organisations?
  • What internal processes need to be followed before the relationships can be confirmed and formalised?
  • Is our commitment to be long or short term?
  • Will the collaboration deliver on either/both of the following:
    • contribute to enhancing the quality use of medicines
    • improve patient welfare or outcomes

Consider the International Alliance of Patients Organizations (IAPO’s) two key documents that address issues of transparency and independence:

  • ‘Framework for interaction’
  • ‘Project agreement’