Question to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr Alex White, TD)
To ask the Minister for Health if he will furnish details on any national and European initiatives to develop a disclosure code regarding incentives paid to doctors by pharmaceutical companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer T.D.
To ask the Minister for Health if there is any research available that links incentives paid to doctors by pharmaceutical companies to prescribing patterns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th July, 2013.
The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) has created a ‘disclosure code of transfers of value to healthcare professionals and organisations’, which means that, from 2016, EU drug manufacturers are required to disclose payments to doctors. The code of practice was developed to improve transparency in the industry.
Every member company will have to disclose or document the names of the healthcare professionals or associations who have received payments or something else of value on their websites. The disclosed information will also include the payment amount as well as the type of financial relationship which will affect consultancy and congress fees and travel payments. EFPIA members must adhere to this code in order to remain in this trade body.
Section 59.8 of the Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners advises Medical Practitioners that “You must keep up to date with developments in medication safety. You should not rely solely or excessively on promotional literature distributed by pharmaceutical companies for information about particular drugs. You should seek independent evidence-based sources of information on the benefits and risks associated with medicines before prescribing”.
The HSE has been working with GPs over many years to encourage better quality prescribing of drugs in Ireland. In 2012, the HSE’s Medicines Management Programme was established and one of its key tasks is to communicate with prescribers regarding best practice.
The Programme has identified ‘preferred drugs’ for prescribers when prescribing Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) or statin medication for patients. This is the first time that the State has introduced a preferred drug initiative. PPIs are prescribed for patients with peptic ulcer disease and/or reflux and statin medication is for high cholesterol. The preferred PPI is Lansoprazole and the preferred statin is Simvastatin. The HSE is asking doctors to prescribe these preferred drugs in order to save money, both for patients who pay for their medication and to deliver savings of an estimated €15 million for the taxpayer.
A further initiative underway to assist with GP prescribing is the launch of the HSE’s Prescribing Guidance System (PGS). This system supports prescribers with integrated ‘point of prescribing’ information making it easier for GPs to make decisions in line with MMP prescribing guidance. In turn, the system also gives assurance regarding the effectiveness of prescribing guidance interventions.
It is anticipated that this prescribing guidance system will be a critical assistance to the GP community and significantly important to the wider health system.
Furthermore, the ESRI report Pharmaceutical Prices, Prescribing Practices and Usage of Generics in a Comparative Context, which was published on the 27th of June recommended that “…financial incentives to reduce pharmaceutical expenditure should not be introduced for medical practitioners in Ireland”. The Department of Health and the HSE agree with this recommendation and no such incentives are in place.