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EWC policy work – some key submissions

A major focus for EWC’s considerations at its July 2013 meeting was the issue of public reporting of pharmaceutical company payments to medical practitioners. 

Reporting of payments to individual doctors in some form will be a reality in Australia by 2015 through the next iteration of Medicines Australia’s Code of Conduct.

Medicines Australia, the national body representing many innovative pharmaceutical companies operating in Australia, submits its Code of Conduct to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for authorisation. The ACCC has stated that it expects the next version to reflect public expectations for greater transparency around payments to individual doctors.

The AMA has been an active participant in the public debate on the transparency of relationships between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.  EWC is playing a key role in formulating the AMA’s position.

Building on its discussions at previous meetings, EWC focused consideration at its July meeting around specific principles that will help inform the AMA’s ultimate position and its submission to Medicines Australia.   

This included the need for strong governance arrangements to put public reporting of individual payments on a sound and sustainable footing.  Information should also be presented with key contextual information that enables patients to understand the clinical context and make informed choices. Without good design and implementation, public reporting could mean patients choose not to go to a particular doctor for the wrong reasons.

EWC also considers policy in relation to activity based funding (ABF) and the Pricing Framework for Australian public hospitals, as developed by the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA).  The AMA is actively engaged with IHPA on hospital pricing and the implementation of ABF. IHPA’s Chief Executive, Dr Tony Sherbon, attended EWC’s May 2013 meeting and briefed the Committee on these issues.  Discussion with Dr Sherbon helped inform two recent submissions from the AMA to major IHPA consultation documents.

The AMA submission on IHPA’s draft Work Program for 2013-14 noted the particular needs and timing pressures to address quality, teaching, training and research (TTR) and classification development issues within Activity Based Funding (ABF).  It also recommended that IHPA make specific provision for ‘user testing’ of the new mental health services classification.

In relation to the Pricing Framework 2014-15, the AMA’s separate submission noted IHPA has generally sound approaches to developing classifications systems, but should road test new and problematic elements of the framework with clinicians and/or clinical units to get a ‘reality check’ on how they will operate in practice. IHPA should also publicly report the impacts of the new framework on an ongoing basis and there should be clear mechanisms to identify and secure future funding arrangements for any services that are determined not to be covered by the framework and ABF.

AMA submissions on matters such as public reporting of pharmaceutical company payments, or the implementation of ABF, are important policy processes. They help to directly influence the outcomes of government and other key processes and they also help to develop and align the AMA’s thinking and approach in these important areas.

EWC, and the other AMA policy committees, play a critical role in this important work.

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