Doctors, drugs, and ethics

Anne Taylor-Vaisey points out this article, titled "Doctors, drugs, information and ethics: a never-ending story," from the Medical Journal of Australia. It explains the current state of the state in Australia, and makes recommendations, including:

    Appropriate professional interactions with industry and standards for these should be part of undergraduate and postgraduate medical training programs, and Continuing Medical Education.

    All clinicians should have ready access to authoritative, independent, regularly updated, best-practice prescribing guidelines, such as Therapeutic guidelines,13 the Australian medicines handbook,14 Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association standard treatment manual15 and Australian adverse drug reactions bulletin.16 Such resources should be user-friendly and could appropriately be included in prescribing software.

    Doctors working in the pharmaceutical industry play a crucial role as ethical and scientific guardians and gatekeepers. They should be trained and supported in this role from inside and outside the companies, with companies unequivocally committed to developing and sustaining organisational cultures that have ethical and scientifically-based conduct and compliance with the Code at their core. All staff -- especially sales and marketing staff -- involved in the development, review and approval of promotional material should have compliance with the Code as individual objectives subject to performance appraisal, and should face personal sanction, such as forfeiture of bonus, for breaches of the Code for which they bear responsibility. Pharmaceutical companies should make scientific and ethical competence, and demonstrated familiarity with the Code, a condition of selecting agencies and individuals involved in developing promotional materials. Many of these recommendations are also relevant to medical software companies.

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