Over the past decade, both the health-care professions and the pharmaceutical industry have
revised the codes governing their interaction. These adjustments were responses to changing
public standards and to data demonstrating the adverse impact of such interactions on
prescribing behaviour and on health spending.
Now the relationships between health professions and industry are more tightly regulated
than ever before. They’re characterised by a commitment to transparency and to processes
that avoid conflicts of interest – more than at any time in the past.
Perhaps the two most significant sets of guidelines governing interaction between doctors and
the pharmaceutical industry - the Royal Australasian College of Physician’s “Guidelines for
relationships between physicians and industry” and the “Code of Conduct” of Medicines
Australia (the peak industry group for the pharmaceutical industry) – are currently under
It’s clear that each body will likely introduce incremental changes to the way relationships
are managed in the health sector. Sadly, incremental variations achieve little and what we
need is fundamental change to the ways in which medicine and medical professionals interact
And despite the progress to date, promotional activities continue, often under the guise of
education. Marketing data remain generally aggregated, obscuring the identities of the
beneficiaries of industry support.