What’s all this about?
Medical data, including information from clinical trials, can provide a valuable source for the development of future medicines – perhaps in terms of previously unthought of applications, for example. But there is an obvious patient confidentiality issue so the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has drawn together existing legislation such as the Data Protection Act, along with industry best practice, to create a new standard.
And this affects healthcare PROs?
Definitely. It is another tool with which the pharma community can promote itself as upholding strict legal and ethical standards. There is a tension over privacy, and these guidelines lay out when it would be acceptable for data to be made available to researchers.
Is there a reputation management aspect to this as well?
Yes, because patients have to feel that their trust will not be abused. In-house PROs can point to their company’s adherence to these guidelines as a means of illustrating how patients’
interests are being safeguarded.
Does this fit into a wider pharma comms trend?
Yes, the broad trend towards greater transparency which pharma companies have embraced. GSK set up its clinical trials register a couple of years ago to publish all trials data on its marketed prescription medicines and vaccines, for example. And only this month Eli Lilly & Company announced it would post online all its educational grant funding and contributions to other US organisations (PRWeek, 11 May).
Is the ABPI doing anything else?
This week, the organisation held its second annual Code Awareness Day in which it publicised the code of practice – a different one from these new research guidelines. This sets out the ethical standards that the pharma industry should meet when dealing with health professionals. It covers issues such as the type of venues at which it is acceptable for companies to entertain doctors.
For further information visit www.abpi.org.uk