Consumer advocates and government watchdogs in Australia have followed the United States' lead in demanding greater transparency concerning pharmaceutical industry ties to physicians.
Beginning January 11, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and other global pharmas doing business in Australia will for the first time start to disclose payments made to doctors who serve as company consultants and event speakers and to groups receiving other types of financing, such as conference sponsorships.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had wanted the new Code of Conduct to include individual payments made to doctors but accepted, on a temporary basis, a more modest reporting requirement that includes only aggregate reporting, a proposal put forward by Medicines Australia, a trade group.
The ACCC said the code will be reviewed in two years and that it will require more detailed payment reporting by the end of 2014. "Improving transparency around payments to individual doctors will play an important role in promoting community confidence in the integrity of these payments to healthcare professionals," said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court in a statement to the media.
Medicines Australia chief Brendan Shaw said all of the group's members had signed on to the new transparency code. "Engagement with doctors is important and legitimate because patients want to be sure that their doctors know how to use the medicines they're being prescribed," said Shaw. "Now the nature of that engagement will be much more transparent."