Pharmaceutical companies must provide appropriate training to all employees to ensure interactions with stakeholders are ethical, according to new revisions to the industry’s international code of practice.
The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) has updated its guiding principles to ensure interactions are conducted to high ethical and professional standards at all times.
David Brennan, IFPMA President and AstraZeneca CEO, says the revised regulations provide a framework for the industry to “act with integrity and build trust”.
The emphasis placed on training by the Federation follows qualitative research (read here) by Pharmaceutical Field which found UK pharma companies are not doing enough to develop new skills needed by sales representatives to excel in the modern working environment.
The updates to the 2012 Code aim to increase transparency and increase patients’ welfare and health.
The Code says that any ‘events’ for healthcare professionals should only be organised to provide scientific or educational information, or to inform individuals about products.
Also, no company may arrange events for stakeholders that take place outside of their home country, the Code says, unless it is justified from a logistical or security point of view.
When interacting with patient organisations, pharma companies must act ethically and respect the independence of the group. They should also declare involvement from the outset with patient groups and provide written evidence. Finally, patient group meetings or events may be sponsored by companies, but only if the purpose of the meeting is “professional, educational and scientific in nature”, the Code adds.
Additional amendments to the Code include high-level guiding principles for practice and a clear distinction between gifts, promotional aids and items of medical utility. Guidance for supporting continuing medical education, a provision of disclosure of clinical trials information and guidance for filing complaints has also been updated.
Pre-approval promotional activities for pharmaceutical products, company-sponsored entertainment at events and personal gifts to healthcare professionals remain prohibited in an attempt to increase transparency.
David Brennan commented that the new amendments were “not about doing the easy thing, but the right thing”.
The amendments have been backed by the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO). Durhane Wong-Rieger, Chair, IAPO, commented: “The expansion of this Code of Practice is welcome and necessary to bring greater clarity to the ethical standards that should be adhered to.
“The public must have trust and confidence in all healthcare decision-making and IAPO welcomes IFPMA’s commitment to promote appropriate standards and will observe closely how well these are implemented and followed globally.”
The Federation, which represents the research-based pharmaceutical industry, requires all member companies and associations around the world to adopt and implement new aspects of the Code.