The article ‘Drug firms' freebies for NHS staff’ (03/07/11) questions the provision by industry of hospitality for health professionals.
Subsistence (not hospitality) such as food, travel and accommodation is only provided in association with scientific meetings, promotional meetings, scientific congresses and training and is strictly regulated by the ABPI Code of Practice. Delegates attend the scientific programme – not because of the venue or for subsistence and the outcome of industry investment in education, training and meetings is better patient care.
Led by the belief that patients benefit from industry and medics working together, the profession and industry are making good progress in ensuring our relationship is transparent, ethical and appropriate. The industry and medical profession support the Bribery Act which provides further protection against impropriety. The article refers to cases considered under the Code which is operated by the PMCPA independently. Detailed case reports together with information about making a complaint can be found at www.pmcpa.org.uk
The shared commitment to high standards is demonstrated in the Royal College of Physicians’ Medicines Forum recommendations underpinning the statement from 15 Royal Colleges and leading medical organisations to support changes to the ABPI’s Code of Practice to increase the transparency of payments for fees and consultancy and end the practice of branded promotional aids. Discussions ensuring best practice in the provision of medical education and publications are making progress and the companies in the article have all played a part in the evolution of our robust framework of regulation. The commitment to a transparent, ethical relationship has been made loud and clear.
Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
(An edited version of this letter was published in The Independent on Sunday on 10 July 2011)