UK Healthcare industry body, the ABHI has launched a website dedicated entirely to the dissemination of its codes of business practice. Even the address, abhicodeofpractice.org.uk, tells us exactly what it’s about.
Alongside Eucomed’s own guidelines this is probably the most comprehensive attempt yet, to spell out exactly what is expected of the industry in its association with medical professionals this side of the pond. Companies can even use an “Ethical Collaboration in Healthcare” logo on their materials to show us all just how compliant they are, and how they have procedures, staff and training programmes in place to ensure they remain compliant with the code.
For anyone who’s confused about industry bodies in view of the existence of Eucomed, ABHI’s European equivalent, Eucomed launched its version of the logo scheme last year with an identical logo aimed at its own members. Some companies will be members of both ABHI and Eucomed. ABHI recommends that eligible multinational companies active in more than two EU countries choose the European logo licensed by Eucomed.
The complete guidance document can be found here, and it makes reassuringly sensible reading so should help clarify most situations when industry bod and clinician are stood next to each other in the queue for Costa Coffee wondering who should offer to pay.
The four key tenets of the guidelines defining how industry and medical professionals should interact are summarised as:
- the principle of separation: interactions should not be used to influence purchasing decisions nor contingent on use or recommendation of members’ products
- the principle of transparency: details of interactions should be made known to relevant authorities
- the principle of equivalence: remuneration must be at fair market value for services provided
- the principle of documentation: written agreements required
So there we have it? We have the vaguely amusing prospect of companies working with clinicians who are so afraid of breaching the principle of separation that they don’t use any of the company’s products. It’s tough to argue with any of this really though. And “something had to be done”.
NHS Medical Director comments
Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS and an advocate and supported of the medtech industry states; “This is a great example from the medical technology sector of industry responding proactively to the need for effective self regulation. We applaud ABHI’s initiative and commend it as a precedent for other suppliers to the NHS. The NHS will respond strongly by respecting the Code in its dealings with the device industry”