Medicines Australia to disclose payments to doctors under new Code of Conduct

A new Medicines Australia Code of Conduct will require member companies for the first time to provide public disclosure of aggregate payments to doctors and consumer groups.

The new provisions represent a major shift towards greater transparency and follow 18 months of consultation with consumer organisations, academics, peak doctor groups and other stakeholders.

Medicines Australia will also oversee the establishment of a working group to develop an effective and workable mechanism for ensuring even greater transparency in the relationship between industry and doctors.

The new Code of Conduct, which has been submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for authorisation, will require Medicines Australia member companies to report in aggregate amounts:

  • All payments made to healthcare professionals for advisory boards and consultancy arrangements
  • All sponsorships of healthcare professionals to attend medical conferences and educational events
  • All payments made to speakers at educational events
  • All sponsorships of all individual consumer organisations for each financial year, including the value of non-monetary support.

The first of these reports will be published on the Medicines Australia website in June 2013 with others to follow, and are in addition to existing reports detailing hospitality provided at educational events.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the move to a stronger Code and greater transparency reflected changing community expectations.

“Consumers and peak doctor groups support industry moves to further transparency, and that’s why we’re committed to it,” Dr Shaw said.

“Transparency is critical because it builds public confidence in the valuable and necessary engagements industry has with consumers and healthcare professionals.

“Engagement with doctors is important and legitimate because patients want to be sure that their doctors know how to use the medicines they’re being prescribed.

“Now the nature of that engagement will be much more transparent.”

Other changes to the Code of Conduct include:

  • A ban on all brand name reminders for healthcare professionals
  • A ban on competition prizes for healthcare professionals
  • An explicit ban on all personal gifts to doctors such as chocolates and flowers
  • A new explicit requirement for companies to adhere to an International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) global position on disclosing clinical trial information and publishing clinical trial results in scientific literature.
  • A requirement that any payments to healthcare professionals in relation to patient support programs is disclosed to patients.

Dr Shaw said the new Code would ensure the important relationships between the medicines industry, doctors and patients continued to meet the ethical standards expected by the community.

“Sponsorship of doctors to attend conferences and educational events, and payments for speaking, consulting or serving on advisory boards are important activities and serve the interests of patients,” Dr Shaw said.

“Records of those payments will now be publicly available and open to scrutiny. This kind of transparency will help ensure we continue to earn the trust and confidence of the community.”

Dr Shaw said a new working group would be asked to recommend what further transparency measures should be introduced that would best serve the community.

“The working group will evaluate the different models for further transparency and identify an effective mechanism for ensuring additional transparency in what is a vital relationship for the effective operation of the health system.

“The industry has committed to this dialogue and we want it to produce a meaningful, worthwhile outcome for the community”.

The new Code of Conduct, which has been submitted to the ACCC for authorisation is available at:


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