High level of Code compliance continues
An independent monitoring and audit process of 15,836 educational events sponsored or provided by pharmaceutical companies has found that all but 21 fully comply with the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct.
The 21 events identified by the Code Monitoring Committee as potentially breaching the Code have been referred to the independent Code of Conduct Committee for a final determination.
Medicines Australia chief executive Ian Chalmers said the half-yearly report of member companies’ educational events for healthcare professionals showed that companies were undertaking those events in an ethical manner.
“An independent monitoring process shows that 99.9 per cent of educational events comply with the Code of Conduct,” Mr Chalmers said.
“That is a pretty good record. But we want to get to 100 per cent, so any breaches of the Code won’t be tolerated. We take a zero tolerance approach to this.”
Mr Chalmers said ethical engagement between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals is an important means of keeping prescribers up to date with new developments in medicines.
“Pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to patients to ensure doctors have the latest information about prescription medicines,” Mr Chalmers said.
“It is critical that healthcare decisions affecting every Australian are informed by dialogue between those who make medicines and those who prescribe them. That is vital for Australian patients.”
The report includes details of educational events provided or sponsored by 40 Medicines Australia member companies during the six months to 30 June 2008.
The cost of hospitality (travel, accommodation and catering) listed in the report is $17.9 million. The total cost of events, including hospitality, speaker costs, event organisational costs, venue hire and other related expenses is $32.6 million.
The total number of healthcare professional attendances is 399,339, with an average hospitality cost of $45 per head.
Mr Chalmers said educational events must be undertaken within strict guidelines.
“The community can be assured that we have a rigorous Code of Conduct, which sets a high ethical standard for these events,” Mr Chalmers said.
“Lavish hospitality is banned, personal gifts are banned and entertainment is banned. We take a tough line on that.”
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