Revised IFPMA code bans lavish pharma company gifts to docs

Pharma companies belonging to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Association (IFPMA) must now adhere to a revised ethics code barring them from giving doctors money or gifts that might influence drug choices. The 21-page code, updated on Jan. 1, applies to all of IFPMA’s 26 member companies which include Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis and Schering-Plough, among others. “What we’re trying to do is prevent as many of the activities as possible that have not helped the reputation of the industry,” Harvey Bale, director general of IFPMA, told Bloomberg News. “We need to make sure the product is the best product for the patient and is not influenced by gifts and it’s not influenced by hospitality or vacations.” The code does allow inexpensive gifts related to prescription drugs such as pens or stethoscopes. IFPMA said it has assembled a network of industry sources who will serve as its “eyes and ears” and a panel of compliance experts to hear complaints and appeals. IFPMA said it plans to make violations of the code public. Also covered in IFPMA’s revised code are the locations of medical and scientific meetings. These events shouldn’t be held in “renowned or extravagant venues” and the hospitality shouldn’t exceed what the doctors would normally be willing to pay themselves, according to the code.