Starting next September, pharmaceutical companies will no longer give doctors and healthcare professionals freebies and junkets in exchange for promoting their products.
This is part of efforts to raise the standards in the relationship between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry.
The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) released a newly revised Code of Practice banning their member-companies from giving gifts.
“The Code does not allow company-sponsored entertainment at events, and providing or offering personal gifts to healthcare professionals… The Code similarly prohibits entertainment, leisure and social activities to healthcare professionals and other stakeholders,” PHAP said in a statement.
“The revised Code also covers any activity undertaken, organized or sponsored by a member-company that is directed at healthcare professionals to promote the prescription, recommendation, supply, administration or consumption of its pharmaceutical products through all methods of communication, including the internet.”
All 44 PHAP member-companies must abide by the Code.
The Code of Practice was revised after the association adopted the Mexico Declaration on Ethical Marketing Practices, which was discussed in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting last year in Hawaii.
Specifically, the code prohibits pharmaceutical firms from conducting events in “prestigious or luxurious venues,” saying that company-sponsored events should be “conducive to the scientific or educational objectives of the meeting.”
Under the revised code, employees of PHAP companies must learn to distinguish between personal gifts and promotional aids.
High standards of practice
“All medical, dental and veterinary practitioners, including private practitioners, shall write prescriptions using the generic name. The brand name may be included if so desired,” according to Section 38 of Republic Act 9502 or the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008.
In the last few years, prices of medicine were going down. “Pricing is a function of competition and with the entry of many generics over the last few years, prices have significantly moved downwards,” PHAP said in a e-mail to GMA News.
"Even before the revision of the Code, PHAP does not allow entertainment, giving of personal gifts and conduct of meetings in luxurious venues. By so doing, we ensure that interactions are professional, ethical and appropriate," the association said.
Dr. Oscar Tinio, president of the Philippine Medical Association, declined to comment on this development, saying he needs to get familiar with the new PHAP policy.
PHAP executive director Reiner W. Gloor noted the policy change is important for both the medical community and pharmaceutical industry.
“Our adherence to the revised code exemplifies our commitment to continue building trust with the healthcare community and the patients,” he added.
“PHAP calls on physicians, nurses, and other companies to ensure adherence to equally high standards of practice throughout the healthcare sector,” the association said. — With Rouchelle Dinglasan/VS