New ethical framework for pharmaceutical physiciansBMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7548.1034 (Published 27 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1034
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Minhas (1) touches on for us the key issues in terms of doctors fitness to work in effective partnership with the pharmaceutical industry. These are the contrast between the robust regulatory requirements and codes of practice binding on industry and their relative absence for health professionals and the paucity of training available in undergraduate and post graduate medical life in regard to this work (2).
Where else in our practice would we accept such a lack of professional readiness as we seem to tolerate in respect of our work with the promotional aspect of the pharmaceutical industry? Surely the standards we set for our clinical & research practice including peer discussion and review of our work and appropriate professional development should apply here?
Those taking part in collaborative research involving medicines in development are bound by the international conference on harmonisation of good clinical practice and sponsoring drug companies required to train their investigators in it and demonstrate their compliance.
Hitherto there has been no such requirement in regard to partnership in promotional work. The initiative from the ABPI recently with 'Code Day' on April 25th drawing clinicians attention to the revised UK code of practice binding on the trade association's membership, is welcome but one sided (3). It seems an imperative that the clinical community put its house in order by establishing a complementary code of practice that sets out the framework for ethical and effective partnership working.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is currently revising its interim guidance in respect of its work with commerical sponsors.(4) Arborvitae Education is a collaborative educational effort between NHS, Academic and Industry physicians to promote this agenda and deliver training in secure partnerships.(5)
We would like to see a broad consensus emerge in the clinical community toward establishing a cross discipline code of practice for all health professionals to observe when working in secure partnership with the pharmaceutical industry.
Dr Peter Aitken MRCGP MRCPsych DCH DRCOG
Director, Arbor Vitae Education
New ethical framework for pharmaceutical physicians,
BMJ 2006; 332: 1034
(2) Barbara Mintzes, Educational initiatives for medical
and pharmacy students about drug
promotion, an international cross-sectional survey,
World Health Organisation, October 2005
(3) Prescriptions Medicines Code of Practice Authority, Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry, ABPI, January 2006
(4) Council Report 117,http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/publications/collegereports/councilreports.aspx
Peter Aitken and Paul Gandhi are Directors of Arbor Vitae Education which delivers training in working in partnership with pharmaceutical industry, Dr Peter Aitken is an NHS consultant. Dr Paul Gandhi is employed in the pharmaceutical industry.
Competing interests: No competing interests