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Calls for healthcare transparency and accountability renewed

Adherence to voluntary code of ethics pushed
/ 12:30 AM February 15, 2014

The clamor for transparency and accountability in healthcare practices and the push for adhering to codes of ethics are becoming stronger.

Amid the growing concern of less than favorable practices among some pharmaceutical companies, medical practitioners and even the government health agencies, Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) Philippines chair Roberto Pagdanganan said that “ensuring ethical conduct, transparency and accountability in our actions is key in the delivery of healthcare and in improving outcomes.”

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Speaking to reporters during the annual MeTA forum “Multistakeholder Collaboration in Promoting Transparency and Ethics in Healthcare” on Feb. 11 at Bayanihan Center in Pasig, Pagdanganan emphasized the need for a code of ethics grounded on the Mexico City Principles.

“The Mexico City Principles for Voluntary Code of Business Ethics in the Biopharmaceutical Sector,” also known as the Mexico City Principles, is anchored on healthcare and patient focus, integrity, independence, legitimate intent, transparency and accountability. It laid down standards for the ethical promotion of medicines to ensure that medical decisions are made in the best interest of patients.

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Organizer MeTA Philippines, a multistakeholder coalition of government, private sector, civil society, academe, health professional associations and international development partners, is urging for more appropriate mechanisms for the regulation and monitoring of pharmaceutical marketing activities for greater transparency in the pharmaceuticals supply chain, pricing, government procurement process and system of delivering medicines from public health facilities to patients, especially the poor.

Stricter policing

Meanwhile, the government, through its representatives in the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health, is pushing for the stricter policing of the pharmaceutical industry and medical practitioners among their ranks.

According to Pagdanganan, the initiative nowadays is focused on the delivery of better benefits and high-quality care to patients, “anchored on the overarching principles of putting patients first, ensuring the independence and ethical conduct of health providers, and promoting transparency and accountability.”

So with the support of the British government, MeTA  initiated a program to develop the framework and guidelines based on the Mexico City Principles for a multistakeholder network that will undertake a sustained advocacy campaign to support the efforts of the FDA and the DOH. It is also engaging the health professionals, patients and civil society to urge the pharmaceutical industry to adopt voluntary codes of ethics.

Regular information-sharing

MeTA said it is supporting efforts to encourage and institutionalize regular information-sharing among partners, reasoning that accurate and quality information, when regularly available, will lead to better decision-making and broader consensus across the healthcare community.

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Meanwhile, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), a 38-member organization of research-based medicines sector in the country, agreed with Pagdanganan’s call for adherence to codes of ethics. PHAP executive director Teodoro Padilla said that “ethical relationships with the healthcare community are crucial to our mission of delivering the best quality care to patients in this era of Universal Healthcare.”

Padilla noted the need to adopt a code of ethics, which he said “is aligned with the national and global campaign fostering good governance as imperative to bringing about not only economic growth but also better health for all.” That is why PHAP has its own Code of Practice, which sets the standards for the ethical marketing and promotion of prescription products directed to the healthcare professions.

On the other hand, MeTA is calling on the government, industry and academe to remove barriers to information, and make such more accessible to patients, consumers and the public.

“Open, transparent and informed decision making will help steer the multistakeholder health dialogue towards reform and concrete action,” Pagdanganan said. “We must encourage greater collaboration among all partners to address health challenges that are now evolving in an increasingly complex environment.”

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TAGS: accountability, code of ethics, health and wellness, Healthcare, Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) Philippines, transparency
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