Health industries in Apec to adopt ethics code
Health industry groups from the 10 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) have announced in Manila their progress toward the adoption of a code, a move seen to address unethical practices affecting patient safety.
Thirty-two biopharmaceutical and medical device associations have “adopted or achieved formal progress towards their first code of ethics, expanding the number of firms in these sectors covered by a code to 19,000 across the region,” Apec said. Of this number, more than 13,000 are considered small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The move also forms part of a public and private collaboration to boost the business environment in the region, highlighting as well the role of small businesses to drive growth within the sector.
The ethics code will be based on Apec principles formulated via a multi-stakeholder process and centered on business independence, integrity and transparency.
Participants in the recently concluded Apec small business ethics forum noted that the entire health ecosystem benefits when high standard codes of ethics are implemented.
“Corruption increases costs and safety risks for patients and erodes public trust in health systems,” noted Health Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go.
Apec said it continues to lead the way in the advancement of business ethics in healthcare by promoting trust and communication among stakeholders. It said the key is to work together to translate these codes into practical and ethical behavior.
“The lack of an ethical business environment hurts companies seeking to legitimately grow their local operations or engage in cross-border trade. Corruption is especially problematic for small firms which drive production and supply chains in sectors like healthcare. Above all, it diverts their limited resources away from investment in innovation,” added Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Cuison-Maglaya.
SMEs currently account for more than 97 percent of all businesses, over half of employment and 60 percent of the gross domestic product in Apec economies.
However, they remain more vulnerable to corruption given their size.
Potential conflicts of interest between healthcare companies and physicians also concern Apec.
Examples include firms that extend gifts or other inappropriate inducements to industry professionals to promote a specific type of drug or medical equipment, Apec said.
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