New, updated Code of Ethics for SFEE. Transparency in action
Athens, December 18, 2012 – A new, stricter framework of self-regulation within the industry was unveiled today by the board of the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE), at a special event under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, where an updated Code of Ethics was presented.
The revised Code of Ethics sets out a series of “tight” regulations in the promotion of prescribed medicines, establishes a “ceiling” on sponsorships for conferences, and creates specific conditions for the participation of health professionals in conferences.
Furthermore, the revision responds to the need to set specific limits on donations, to establish criteria in terms of market research and to clarify some aspects regarding the rendering of consultancy services.
It is an evolution of the first Code of Conduct, which was adopted in 2002, “Transparency in action. Responding to the signs of times and the times we live in” said the president of SFEE, Mr. Konstantinos Frouzis.
According to Mr. Frouzis, our country is undergoing a major crisis and the pharmaceutical enterprises industry offers the message for more transparency: “As a leading industry, we should lead by example, by embracing a new mentality, adapted to our times.” He highlighted that “In the Greece of crisis, this new mentality will positively contribute to the efforts our country has to put, in order to walk the path of reliability and growth. We pledge to intensify our effort to contribute to the continuous updating and education of the scientific community. In 2002, the first Code of Ethics laid the foundations. In 2012, the Code of Ethics becomes even stricter. We raise the bar even higher. As high, as befits a leading industry and the country’s future.”
The president of SFEE commended the members of the Association for their collective efforts to revise the Code of Ethics and underlined the fact that “the new regulations were approved unanimously at the general meeting of the Association held in early November.”
The Chairman of the Ethics Committee of SFEE, Mr. Markos Gerasopoulos stated that “the Code of Ethics of SFEE is in line with international rules governing the operation of pharmaceutical companies in Europe and worldwide. As regards our country, we have collaborated with the National Organisation of Medicines (EOF) for its revision. By updating the Code, we establish an even more stringent self-regulatory framework: more coverage in our area of activity, higher sanctions, double fines to members who do not comply.”
Campaign for Information and Support
Since the General Meeting of SFEE was held, in November, when the update of the Code of Ethics was finalised, the Association has launched a campaign to all relevant partners, which were asked to contribute – each through its own institutional involvement – to the implementation of the Code of Ethics and the attainment of its objectives.
The campaign culminated in today’s presentation of the Code of Ethics to the state and institutional representatives, who saluted and supported SFEE’s initiative.
The event was attended by the head of the Athens Office of the Task Force for Greece, Mrs. Georgette Lali; the President of EOF, professor Ioannis Tountas; the director general of Public Administration Mr. Leandros Rakintzis; the president of the organization “Transparency International Hellas”, professor Costas Bakouris; the president of the Hellenic Medical Association Mr. Michalis Vlastarakos; the director of EOPYY, Mr. Eleftherios Papageorgopoulos; the director of 1st YPE Attica. Mr. Vassilis Kontozamanis; the president of ISA, Mr. Giorgos Patoulis; the president of ISP, Mrs. Varvara Anemodoura; the president of the Medical Society of Athens, Athanasios Skoutelis; and the president of the International Association of Medical Representatives Mr. Gerasimos Konidaris.
January 28, 2013 was set as the Day of the Code of Ethics, on which all medical representatives from all companies in the industry, will communicate the principles of the Code to the doctors they will visit across the country.
In this context, SFEE also creates at its website, a special section for the Code of Ethics, where all donations, grants or benefits-in-kind to non-profit institutions and public hospitals will be publicly posted. A special list will be created, based on the standards of the relevant list of European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), for the evaluation of conferences. The list will be posted at SFEE’s website.
New Provisions – Details
The main amendments in the new Code compared with the previous one are:
• The maximum amount that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to give for donation purposes is set to 1% of their total turnover
• All donations, grants or benefits-in-kind to non-profit institutions and public hospitals by a pharmaceutical company will now be published on SFEE’s website
• Specific criteria for the approval of donations are set, such as: Compulsory signing of a contract, the Board Decision, the confirmation of the recipient that the donation was used for the agreed purpose.
Conferences & Scientific Events – SFEE adopts a more rigorous framework for Conferences & Scientific Events:
• Restrictions on the number of physicians and their participations in the conferences and scientific events are established.
• Conferences which are organised in locations renowned for their recreational and/or highly luxurious nature (e.g. spa, resorts, casino, etc.) are rejected.
• The tourist season (summer: 10/6-20/9 & winter: 10/12 – end of February) is defined and tourist destinations during the tourist high seasons are not authorised.
• SFEE will prepare a list, which will be published at SFEE’s website, similar to the one by EFPIA (e4ethics), for all conferences.
• The participation of any escorting member in any activity is not allowed, even if they are covering their own expenses.
• Sponsorship of pharmaceutical companies for conferences is limited and specific maximum limits are set.
Advisory Services Provided by Health Professionals to Pharmaceutical Companies:
The new updated Code provides for a maximum annual fee limit and establishes through internal procedures, levels of fair market value payment for standard services and categories of health professionals, taking into account the level of the health professional, the employment time and the type of service.
Market Research on health professionals:
The introduction of criteria and the adoption of the principles of the Association of Corporate Market Research Europe in terms of conducting market research is for the first time undertaken.
Control Process of Code Implementation:
• Sanctions in case of non-implementation of the regulations of the Code are doubled and authority is given to the Committee of Code of Ethics and Transparency of the SFEE to examine cases ex officio.
• Transparency is increased through publication and posting at SFEE’s website, of all decisions of both the Primary and Secondary Committees.
• The expulsion/deregistration of a pharmaceutical company-member of the SFEE is provided for in the event of non-compliance with the decision of the Secondary Committee.
• The implementation framework of the Code of Ethics is strengthened.