Australian drug companies will be required to disclose payments made to doctors for speaking at conferences or sitting on advisory boards, under a new code of conduct introduced by industry body Medicines Australia. The code will require member companies to report the payments to healthcare professionals and also any sponsorship of individual consumer organisations each financial year.
Medicines Australia’s chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Brendan Shaw said that the need for greater transparency was supported by consumers and doctors. “Sponsorship of doctors to attend conferences and educational events, and payments for speaking, consulting or serving on advisory boards are important activities and serve the interests of patients,” he said in a statement. “Records of those payments will now be publicly available and open to scrutiny. This kind of transparency will help ensure we continue to earn the trust and confidence of the community.”
Dr Shaw added that the organisation had formed a new working group to make further recommendations on transparency in the medicines industry. Other changes under the code include a ban on competition prizes and personal gifts to doctors from the industry. Companies must also adhere to international guidelines on disclosing and publishing clinical trial results.
The new code has been submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for authorisation. The first report on drug company payments to health professionals is scheduled to be published in June 2013.
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