One of the great frustrations of those who work in companies where there is a solid compliance culture is dealing with the limits imposed by their internal policies and procedures, as compared to competition that, sometimes, uses dubious and loose processes, which lead to numerous conflicts of interest, but which can translate into increased sales.
A glaring example of a conflict of interest occurs when a health care company gifts a physician with something valuable, interfering with their judgment to prescribe the most appropriate treatment for their patient. It should be noted here that, with the advancement of medicine and the plurality of companies in the sector, it will not be uncommon for a physician to have five or more products with very similar levels of efficacy and safety profiles, facilitating their decision making with a clear conscience, which might encourage companies to increase such actions as above.
Back to what was discussed before, those who want to market their products without incurring situations such as the one mentioned above, and would also like others to do so, have reason to be even more frustrated with authorities' lack of action in establishing limits and monitoring, especially to avoid situations in which such conflicts of interest prove to be pernicious and, in some situations, even dangerous to the health of patients.
In view of the State's failure to regulate these limits, sectoral associations that create important mechanisms of self-regulation, through codes of conduct with provisions to ensure competition within ethical principles for their members, increasingly assume a relevant role.
Thus a very interesting example has emerged, resulting from the EFPIA - European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations's adoption of a platform called E4ETHICS. It is a risk assessment tool for medical events, to ensure that EFPIA members can sponsor them without incurring ethical risks of a diverse nature, such as paying for entertainment, paying disproportionate amounts for event sponsorships, benefiting some professional health care improperly, etc.
Since September 2021, any sponsorship of medical events has to be submitted to this platform, which has started to evaluate such events through the perspective of the EFPIA code of conduct. Therefore, if an associated company sponsors, participates or collaborates with a medical event without it having been submitted and approved on the E4ETHICS platform, it will incur a clear violation of the EFPIA Code of Conduct, being subject to the sanctions provided for in that document.
Since then, EFPIA has started to act on reaching the wider health care industrial sector and train its members through webinars in November 2021 and January 2022, as well as another live event this past March, where there was an extensive question and answer session, reaching a total of 1,550 participants.
Thus, all associates should through this have visibility on the legitimacy or not of sponsoring, participating or collaborating with a medical event, in a preventive way. And, on the other hand, medical events that insist on abusive practices will no longer have the complacency of companies associated with the EFPIA, forcing them to adapt so that they can receive sponsorships to make their events possible.
It is an innovative idea, in which the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations takes over the role not taken by the States in establishing the appropriate rules so that free competition can occur, within ethical principles and not just legal ones.