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PhRMA's Code on Interactions With HealthcareProfessionalsDiane Bieri aa Executive Vice President and General Counsel, PhRMAPublished online: 12 Oct 2010.
To cite this article: Diane Bieri (2010) PhRMA's Code on Interactions With Healthcare Professionals, The American Journal ofBioethics, 10:10, 18-18, DOI: 10.1080/15265161.2010.526442
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The American Journal of Bioethics, 10(10): 18, 2010Copyright c Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1526-5161 print / 1536-0075 onlineDOI: 10.1080/15265161.2010.526442
PhRMAs Code on Interactions WithHealthcare Professionals
Diane Bieri, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, PhRMA
Americas biopharmaceutical research companies continu-ously pursue polices and practices that best serve the needsof patients and the health care community. To that end,the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America(PhRMA) Board of Directors, in 2008, adopted an enhancedCode on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals.
The new voluntary guidelines improve upon the pre-vious Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals,which was adopted in 2002, as part of an ongoing effortto ensure that pharmaceutical marketing practices complywith the highest ethical and professional standards.
Before I go further, let me give you a little backgroundabout where we first started with this code and where we aretoday. In 1989, the first-ever PhRMA Code on Interactionswith Healthcare Professionals was developed to provide astandard practice for industry representatives to follow. Thecode was lauded by many as a way to help ensure that com-pany interactions with health care professionals were eth-ical and focused on providing information that could helpadvance patient care.
Over the course of a couple decades, we reevaluated ourmarketing guidelinesfor the purpose of making a goodcode even better. We received many comments from dif-ferent health care stakeholders, including physicians, aboutways we could enhance it and found that there were areasthat could be improved uponsuch as the distribution ofnoneducational items, including mugs and pens.
This leads us to 2008, when PhRMA members adoptedthe most recent Code on Interactions with Healthcare Pro-fessionals. We made sure that the updated guidelines re-flected the comments and concerns from others in the healthcare community. In fact, one particular provision in the newcode prohibits the distribution to health care profession-als of noneducational items, such as mugs and pens, to bet-ter focus all aspects of the companyphysician relationshipon advancing disease or treatment education.
While pledging support for the revised PhRMA Code,then PhRMA Chairman Richard Clark of Merck said, In-formative, ethical and professional relationships betweenhealth care providers and Americas biopharmaceuticalresearch companies are instrumental to effective patientcare. We take this responsibility seriously and are con-
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stantly reexamining ways we can enhance these essentialcompanyphysician interactions and reinforce the integrityof information about our medicines.
This couldnt be more true todaycompanies continueto reaffirm their commitment to providing accurate, appro-priate, and scientific information about medicines to healthcare providers.
We believe that a healthy and informative dia-logue between company representatives and physiciansabout medicines is critical to help enhance patient care in theUnited States. After all, biopharmaceutical research com-panies that discover and develop new medicines are themost knowledgeable about their products and are in thebest position to inform health care professionals about awide range of topics related to those medicines, includ-ing new treatment options, appropriate dosing, emergingsafety developments, and potential interactions with otherdrugs.
There were many other enhancements made to our2008 Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals,including provisions to ensure that informational meet-ings between company sales representatives and healthcare professionals take place in professional venues, suchas the doctors office, rather than in restaurants. Thenew provisions also require companies to ensure thattheir representatives are sufficiently trained about appli-cable laws, regulations, and industry standards of prac-tice, including this code, that govern interactions withhealth care professionals. There are also more detailedstandards ensuring the independence of continuing med-ical education, even if it is funded by company contribu-tions.
Finally, several of the changes incorporated in the 2008Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals reflectPhRMAs position that appropriate transparency in rela-tionships with health care professionals can help build andmaintain patient trust in the health care system. Companiestake this responsibility seriously and are constantly reex-amining ways they can improve upon the interactions theyhave with health care professionals so that they can fulfillone of their core missions, which is helping patients fightdisease.