PROs respond to ‘gifts to doctors’ claims

Healthcare PROs have reacted defiantly to a damning report that claims to lift the lid on the pharma industry’s ‘gift giving’ to doctors in the developing world.

The report by consumer body Consumers International alleges that the world’s leading drug companies are attempting to influence doctors’ prescription habits and alter advice to consumers.

Its investigations revealed that drug company gifts include air conditioners, laptops, club membership, new cars and school tuition fees. In one case, drug reps were found to have taken up 17 hours of a Malaysian GP’s surgery time over a five-week period.

The GP received more than 70 separate promotional items from pharma companies including AstraZenica, Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis in one month.

Although the report does not mention the UK, Virgo Health joint MD Angie Wiles said it presented an opportunity for the industry to set the record straight about practices in the UK.

‘It presents an opportunity for the industry to remind people about the great strides that have taken place and the stringent standards that are in place here, and that we have a pharma industry to be proud of,’ she said.

Wiles added: ‘Anything that serves to detract from the outstanding work that has been undertaken in the past couple of years by the ABPI and the pharma industry to improve the standards upheld and resulting reputation is unfortunate. While this kind of activity must be addressed, we should not allow it to distract us from the great work being done here.’

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