The Guild and other health professional and consumer organisations have voiced their support for the transparency changes in the new Medicines Australia 18th Code of Conduct, which has come into effect from today.
CEO of Medicines Australia, Tim James, welcomed the support of important healthcare leaders including the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Consumers Health Forum and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, recognising the importance of setting the benchmark for responsible and ethical self-regulation.
“The new Code is an important development in building on the established, trusted relationship between patients and healthcare professionals,” James says.
“A strong working relationship and ongoing knowledge exchange between the Australian innovative medicines industry and healthcare professionals are critical to better patient outcomes.”
National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, emphasised the Guild’s support of the new Code and acknowledged the new stronger transparency provisions for payments to healthcare professionals.
“From the point of view of community pharmacy, the purpose of the Code is to ensure that the trust placed in pharmacists by health care consumers is soundly based, and that patients can be confident the medication and advice they receive from their community pharmacist is provided on a transparent, ethical and clinical basis,” Tambassis says.
The 18th Edition will increase transparency and build consumers’ trust by disclosing companies’ payments to healthcare professionals, such as educational support through airfares and accommodation.
It will also require Medicines Australia member companies to publicly report when a company pays a healthcare professional for their service or provides financial support for a healthcare professional.
The Consumers Health Forum of Australia also showed its support for the measures which will see the information made publicly available online, saying transparency between healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies should give consumers piece of mind that the relationship between the two aren’t compromised.
“Making those relationships public through these measures is an important step in restoring confidence for consumers,” CHF says.
From 1 October 2015, all member companies will be required to collect information about healthcare professionals that receive payments for consulting or speaker services and support, to attend educational events through the payment or provision of airfares, accommodation or registration fees.
Where companies have the agreement of the healthcare professional, the information will be published in a report on each company’s website.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians also supports the new reporting requirements, saying it believes that clear guidelines will be beneficial for both healthcare professionals and industry, and most importantly this initiative will empower patients by providing them with transparent information on payments and support.
Following a 12 month adjustment period, from 1 October 2016 the Code will require public reporting of these payments to healthcare professionals to be mandatory.