Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2009) — Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Senior Vice President Ken Johnson issued the following statement regarding the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report on interactions among pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology company representatives and healthcare professionals:
“America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies along with IOM are committed to ensuring the best possible health outcomes for patients. While PhRMA continues to review the IOM report in its entirety, we believe any conflict of interest policy should start with the premise that academia, physicians and companies share a responsibility to maintain ethical, professional relationships and exchange information for the benefit of patients.
“Additionally, it is important to clarify that America’s pharmaceutical research companies spend far more on research and development (R&D) than on marketing. In 2007, pharmaceutical companies invested $63.2 billion on R&D of new medicines, while spending around $11.5 billion on promotional activity directed to physicians, journal advertising and consumer advertising, according to IMS Health. Last year, pharmaceutical companies spent a record $65.2 billion on R&D.
“According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), America’s pharmaceutical research companies are ‘one of the most research-intensive industries in the United States.’ Pharmaceutical firms invest as much as five times more in research and development, relative to their sales, than the average U.S. manufacturing firm, CBO states.
“Providing physicians with timely, accurate information about the medicines they prescribe clearly benefits patients and advances healthcare throughout the United States. Meetings with technically-trained pharmaceutical research company representatives help inform physicians about a wide range of topics related to prescription medicines, such as new treatment options, appropriate dosing, emerging safety developments and potential interactions with other drugs.
“And importantly, pharmaceutical research companies are careful to ensure that their relationships with both healthcare professionals and students are ethical and appropriate.
“The commitment of PhRMA and its member companies to provide accurate, up-to-date information to physicians about medicines is reflected by the recently strengthened PhRMA Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals.
“The newly revised PhRMA Code, which builds on improvements already made in the previous 2002 version, is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that pharmaceutical marketing practices comply with the highest ethical standards. The voluntary Code reaffirms that interactions between company representatives and healthcare professionals should be focused on informing the healthcare professionals about products, providing scientific and educational information, and supporting medical research and education.
“The Code makes several changes designed to enhance the independence of continuing medical education (CME). Among these new provisions, the PhRMA Code states that funding for CME should support a full range of treatment options and not promote a particular product; companies should separate CME grant-making decision from sales and marketing departments; and companies should follow CME accreditation standards and respect the independent judgment of CME providers.
“What’s more, existing federal law is very clear: pharmaceutical research companies must make sure that information they convey to physicians is accurate and consistent with pharmaceutical product labeling approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These activities are monitored by FDA, which turns any evidence of impropriety over to the Department of Justice for investigation.
“In the end, interactions between pharmaceutical sales representatives and healthcare professionals enhance public health and improve patient care. Pharmaceutical research companies take this responsibility seriously and remain committed to ensuring that these interactions follow the highest standards.
Recommendations by IOM and others can also help advance ethical, professional relationships. But it is important to balance the need to manage potential conflicts of interest against the possibility that overly restrictive policies – for example, prohibitions on physicians’ use of drug samples or on the availability of industry funding for CME – could have negative consequences for patient care.”
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.
PhRMA Internet Address: www.phrma.org
For information on how innovative medicines save lives, visit: www.innovation.org
For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit: www.pparx.org