It seems that the relationship that doctors have with pharmaceutical companies is under increasing scrutiny.  As evidence mounts on the impact of pharmaceutical marketing techniques on prescribing, there is an increasing push for transparency.

While the No Advertising Please campaign of doctors banning pharmaceutical reps from their practices is newly underway, the pharmaceutical companies may consider the ACCC’s advice to the Medicine Australia code of conduct as further bad news. In response to Medicine Australia’s draft code of conduct, the ACCC have called for a provision in the code of that would mean that doctors have to agree to having their details disclosed as part of any payment deal.

The Consumers Health Forum have welcomed the move. Adam Stankevicius, CEO of CHF said “If a doctor is accepting payments or perks from drug companies for participating in “educational” events, patients should be able to ascertain this.  Doctors and companies have been coy about these “transfers of value”, but patients should not be left in the dark as to whether the drug they are prescribed is from a manufacturer who has given money or other benefits to their doctor.”

The United States recently introduced individual transparency of payments with the first data published earlier this year. The WSJ last month in a reported that drug companies and medical device companies had paid at least $3.5 billion to physicians and hospitals in the first five months of 2013. Drug company payments are now publicly available in the U.S due to a  provision in Obama’s healthcare reform, the Sunshine Act , designed to bring greater transparency to the relationship between physicians and industry.

Here in Australia the issue of individual disclosure is not new, as noted by Ken Harvey wrote in the Conversation last year, and the ACCC in their press release. Maybe this time there will be change.

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