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Code opens window on conduct

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In vitro diagnostic technology companies must clearly qualify any advertised claim that their products are safe, under updated ethical rules adopted by the peak industry association IVD Australia.

Companies that manufacture and supply in vitro diagnostics have also been told any hospitality provided to health professionals should be “limited”, and any gifts given must be modest.

The recommendations are made in the 2nd edition of the IVD Australia Code of Conduct, which was formally adopted in October last year following an extensive review process involving submissions from both internal and external stakeholders.

The Code aims to establish minimum standards of behaviour for the industry to help it regulate itself, including the conduct of relationships with health care professionals.

Among issues addressed in the revised code was a clearer definition of what constitutes a gift (providing product samples is not considered to be gift-giving), as well as what information and terminology should be included in ads, (the term “safe” should not be used unless clearly qualified, and the term “new” may only be used in the first 12 months of promotion).

In a new addition to the code, member companies are advised that any promotion of a product, directly or indirectly, through social media is considered advertising, and should be subject to the same rules as other forms of promotion.

Where a company commissions an article, it must be clearly and prominently identified, and any claims made must be referenced.

Where firms engage health care professionals as consultants, they are advised that any payments made must be “reasonable”, and sales and promotional meetings must be conducted in labs, training institutions, medical facilities or other appropriate venues, with only modest hospitality costs to be incurred.

In instances where health professionals own a material or significant interest in a member company, the Code advises that any conflict of interest be managed in a way to avoid compromising public trust, and health professionals are advised to disclose any such interest to a patient when recommending a product marketed by a firm in which their interest is held.

A copy of the code can be viewed at: http://www.ivd.org.au/about-us/code-of-conduct/

Adrian Rollins