Washington, D.C. (September 6, 2011) — Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Executive Vice President and General Counsel Diane Bieri today issued the following statement on interactions with healthcare professionals:
“Interactions between biopharmaceutical research companies and healthcare professionals play a critical role in improving patient care and fostering appropriate use of medicines, and peer education programs – in which expert physicians meet with their fellow healthcare providers on behalf of biopharmaceutical research companies – represent one important element in these interactions.
“Through these programs, physician speakers are able to help their peers stay up-to-date with clinical data about new FDA-approved medicines, new uses of medicines, emerging risks and side effects, and more.
“This latest information is essential for physicians, who have to juggle the demands of clinical practice with the need to stay current. That’s why they value representatives of biopharmaceutical companies, who can provide important data during one of the few free moments of a physician’s busy day: lunch. Though a physician’s schedule is often full of back-to-back appointments with patients, they and their staff find this time to learn the information they need to provide the best care.
“It is true that some critics suggest that interactions between companies and physicians are inappropriate, but they disregard the important steps that companies take to ensure the quality of these informational relationships. Biopharmaceutical research companies comply with internal policies, FDA regulations, and the PhRMA Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals in order to ensure that their relationships with physicians are ethical and informative.
“We also support transparency in these relationships, including the Physician Payment Sunshine provisions of the Affordable Care Act. We understand that patients may want to know if their physicians take part in peer speaker programs and other activities, such as research, that are sponsored by biopharmaceutical research companies.
“Unfortunately, when taken out of context, publicly available information about physician interactions with biopharmaceutical companies does not convey the value of these relationships, which advance science and promote high-quality patient care.
“For example, according to a recent survey of physicians by KRC Research, nine out of 10 attendees of peer education programs said they found information they received at the programs to be up-to-date, useful and reliable. And more than half of attendees said they often gain knowledge or skills helpful to their practice.
“Ultimately, physicians make treatment decisions on a case-by-case basis, in the best interest of each patient. The information provided in peer speaker programs is just one tool that they can use in making those decisions. And in fact, according to KRC Research, physicians use a variety of factors in making prescribing decisions, including clinical practice guidelines; a patient’s financial status and insurance coverage, including formularies and prior authorization; information from biopharmaceutical companies; and of course, the patient’s particular situation, including drug interactions and side effects. This is evidenced by the high generic substitution rate in America, where nearly 80 percent of prescriptions are filled with a generic drug.
“As we move toward Sunshine Act implementation, we will continue to see increased transparency. We hope that the information provided is viewed within the context of value for the patient, and we hope that our ongoing experiences with transparency will help to encourage the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to move forward in providing regulations on implementation of this important provision.”
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