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EU industry-doctor pact

A new joint declaration aims to `add value' to collaborations between pharma and doctors working in Europe

An association that represents approximately two million physicians across Europe has worked hand in hand with industry body, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) to develop jointly accepted co-working guidelines.

The joint declaration, which the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) and EFPIA hope will serve as a framework at both European and national levels, aims to improve and leverage the relationship that exists between doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

In an attempt to ìensure safety of patients and efficacy of therapyî, the declaration addresses product information and promotion of approved medicines, meetings that are organised and conducted by the industry, clinical research, and consultancy and affiliations.

`It is of vital importance that the collaboration between the medical profession and the pharma industry is based on principles to guarantee high ethical standards,' the agreement states.

Transparency is high on the agenda, the document notes, as it can help with the independence and credibility of both parties. For this reason, any relationship between prescribing doctors and pharmaceutical marketing (and other) personnel that `entails - or might be perceived to entail' - conflicts of interest must be publicly disclosed.

With regard to `product information and promotion of approved medicines', the agreement urges pharma companies to provide nothing but `truthful and accurate' promotional materials, as well as `provide honest and up-to-date information' regarding the advantages and disadvantages of its products, in order to help physicians make an informed decision.

Sales reps should be adequately qualified and fully trained, and should be ready to divulge clinically relevant scientific data.

Pharmaceutical marketers should also `abstain from advertising medicines before they have been granted a marketing authorisation', and should not offer `unjustified hospitality' to doctors. All gifts should be `inexpensive and relevant to the practice of medicine'.

Conversely, European doctors should not ask for gifts or benefits from the industry, nor indeed accept any `unjustified hospitality'.

Under this co-operative agreement, doctors must also ensure that they report on adverse drug reactions.

EFPIA communications manager, Christophe de Callat‰y, told that the agreement was a joint initiative from the CPME and EFPIA, and was required in order to update older guidelines that dated from 1993.

He said that the aim was to address certain problems that existed across Europe in the relationship between marketers and doctors, and that this agreement was relevant to all countries in the region - ìthough for some it will be more of a hot topic than for others at the momentî.

The `deal' is hoped to ìresult in added valueî and embrace a ìmore cleverî way for pharma and doctors to work together. This would avoid the `armament race' cited recently by the head of some big pharma firms, where companies vie to gain the biggest salesforce, Christophe noted.

He added that the framework should be taken up by national associations as a universal code of conduct, particularly as representatives from several national bodies took part in developing the agreement through an EFPIA taskforce.

30th September 2008


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