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Pharma transparency, inspired by Europe

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Doctors could enjoy drug company hospitality worth up to $120 a head anonymously under new transparency rules being contemplated by the pharmaceutical industry.

But all medical education payments, including consultation fees and expenses, would be publicly reported in a transparency model peak industry group Medicines Australia is considering adopting, according to Medical Observer.

Under pressure from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for greater transparency, the pharmaceutical industry – in consultation with the medical profession – is developing a system to disclose payments made by drug companies to doctors.

Medical Observer said MA, which had previously considered the US approach, under which virtually all payments to doctors (even the very small) would be disclosed, was now examining the so-called European model, where only hospitality payments greater than $120 a head had to be disclosed, along with all medical education fees and expenses.

The AMA has backed the push for greater transparency in drug industry payments to the medical profession, as long as it is handled in a way that does not impose an undue burden on practitioners, and which sets out the context in which such payments are made.

MA has indicated it is seeking the approval of doctors before developing the voluntary disclosure regime further.

The body’s Director of Compliance, Deborah Monk, told Medical Observer that “we need to have a good feel for whether rank and file doctors are going to be negative about disclosure, both individually and collectively”.

“We have no capacity to prevent health care professionals from opting out but, of course, we would prefer if they did agree to disclosure,” she said.

Adrian Rollins