ACCC Pre-decision conference: Medicines Australia Code

At yesterday’s meeting with the ACCC, Ian Haines, Bob Arnold, Carol Bennett, Ray Moynihan and I argued that full disclosure of the relationship between therapeutic goods companies, physicians and other stakeholders is crucial.

I tabled a petition that currently has over 400 signatures asking the ACCC to make the following changes to its draft determination.

  1. Reduce the period of authorization of the Code of Conduct to one year (2013).
  2. Request Medicines Australia to submit a revised Code to include arrangements covering transparency of relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and individual health professionals for authorization at the end of 2013.
  3. Request Medicines Australia increases the number of informed critics of their current Code regarding transparency matters on the transparency working group.  I would be pleased to assist Medicines Australia in this capacity.

I noted that while most of the signatories are Australian health professionals or concerned consumers a number of international people have also signed the attached petition (see below).

This is because Australian medicines policy is regarded as an exemplar in our region and there is international support for the ACCC to strengthen Medicines Australia Code along the lines requested.

I pointed out that if no changes are made to the draft determination, aggrieved petitioners will ask for a review of this determination by the Australian Competition Tribunal on the grounds that the limited public benefits do not in our view (and on expert advice) outweigh the anti-competitive detriments of the deal.

Medicines Australia argued that their members supported increased disclosure and their transparency working group was set up to explore various models whereby this might be achieved. However, they believed the issues were complex, the cost of compliance high and the benefits unclear. More time was required to find the right way forward.

In response, I said that Medicines Australia concerns reminded me of the Saint Augustine’s prayer, “Oh Lord, give me chastity, but do not give it yet”.

The ACCC is expected to make a final determination on these matters in a few weeks’ time. I’ll post the outcome.

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About Dr Ken Harvey

Public Health Physician, Medical activitist
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