Limits of transparency


Just coming back from The Fourth International Pharmaceutical Regulatory and Compliance Congress and Best Practices Forum (May 17 – 19, 2010 -InterContinental Berlin Germany. Many questions raised about the transparency about the relationships between HCPs and Pharmaceutical industry.

The Pharmaceutical industry, through several approaches, mainly voluntaries ones, had decided to published the list of Patient association that they are funding. Note that Patients Associations are mainly funded by companies and not by states. – To avoid any conflict of interests, these lists are disclosed on the websites (generally at a corporate level i.e. domain names in .com)

Some voices ask for more and that Industry discloses the amount of money paid to HCPs

Even if transparency is necessary, this kind of information is not possible for public release.

First of all, the fees are the income of the doctors and he is the only one available to tell about it or not. Currently laws and codes ask for an announcement before any conference or article of the links between the speaker, writer and companies. The amount seems not useful

The amount should be explained: It means that question could rise about the amount and burden waited on the work done (clinical studies, congresses, expertise)

The amount is not significant of the quality of the doctors. Should a doctor be paid more than another, it should means he is better?

Worse, does a doctor listed is a good doctor and another whom no mentions appear on any website is a bad doctor.

Counterproductive: a doctor who earns lot of money from companies should be considered as “sold” and without any more independence? What is lot of money ?

In France, the Medicine Board receives daily the copy of all the conventions concluded between Pharmaceutical Industry and HCPs. This is a legal provision. A body has then all the information on the amount and is able to say if it is correct or exaggerate regarding the task asked. The DGGCRF (Competitive and Fraud Administration) is also allowed to control all these documents, in the company offices or elsewhere.

It seems therefore not useful to disclose more than the grant to patients associations, and for the doctors to say, when they talk about pathology or a product, what links they have/they had with the pharmaceutical industry.

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