New guidelines to promote positive collaboration between health organisations and the pharmaceutical industry have been backed by the ABPI.
The guidance comes as ABPI President Simon Jose predicts the relationship between NHS and UK pharma will evolve to make them partners within the next three to five years.
Engagement between pharma and the NHS would, he said, develop to become one that is “less transactional and much more based on partnership.”
Guidance on collaboration between healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical industry outlines best practice through a series of ‘dos and don’ts’ and highlights that active collaboration can deliver improved outcomes of care.
Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said the document will “help assure professionals of the good work they are doing and make all sides aware of their responsibilities”.
The guidelines have been backed by several healthcare organisations, including the Department of Health, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government. A number of royal colleges have also given their support.
Developed by the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group the guidelines provide a clear framework for HCPs and industry. HCPs are advised to treat pharma as a healthcare partner, to seek and develop joint working opportunities and to understand the ABPI Code of Practice. They are asked not to expect or request any items which breach the Code, accept any negative accusations or myths against the industry when cooperating, or tolerate any unacceptable practices from pharma.
Alternatively, pharma is encouraged to be clear on its objectives when collaborating with HCPs, to ensure all activities are in line with the Code, and to keep up to date with the requirements of the Bribery Act.
The industry is warned not to collaborate without demonstrating the value of the partnership, not to expect healthcare professionals to participate in actions that are outside their professional code of ethics, and not to engage in collaboration with HCPs without first ensuring that there is a written agreement or contract in place.
“The NHS and pharmaceutical industry share a common agenda to improve patient care and clinical outcomes through high quality and cost effective treatment and care management,” said Stephen Whitehead. “This collaborative way of working is becoming increasingly common and we already have many examples that show how effective it can be. The publication of this statement by a broad base of health organisations will help assure professionals of the good work they are doing and make all sides aware of their responsibilities. Ultimately, we hope this will encourage further collaborative working and in turn, greater strides will be made in improving the health of patients.”
Following the publication, Simon Jose said that greater collaboration across disease pathways was anticipated as the industry seeks to promote its products and services, and the NHS looks to meet quality and efficiency targets.
“For me, it all starts with the fact that we are pursuing the same mission – improving the health and care of patients,” he said. “I think you’ll see the industry think much more about patient pathways instead of thinking about products. And you’ll see more collaboration across the pathway.
“Our role is about partnering with the NHS to ensure they and their patients can get the best out of our medicines, rather than seeing this as a transactional supplier/procurer relationship – which I think is one we’ve come from in the past.”