KARACHI: Fed up with never ending demands from medical professionals, various medical associations and societies for sponsoring medical conferences, seminars and moots, pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan has urged the federal health ministry to formulate rules and a comprehensive framework for organizing medical conferences so that only quality events could be held that help in improving knowledge, skills and practices of medical professionals and students.
“Sometimes rivalrous doctors’ groups in same speciality hold multiple conferences thus bringing down the quality, at expensive 5 star venues. This requires expensive sponsorships to meet expenses and are more of social family get-together”, said an official of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) on Thursday.
The PPMA office-bearer maintained that scientific conferences should do value addition to the knowledge and practices of otherwise busy healthcare professionals at academic venues like medical universities to spark research and development culture.
“Mere, grand national and international get-togethers along with doctors’ families where companies are asked to foot the bills do not serve the cause. Companies have been doing this if their products have dependence on these specialities for improvement of their brand prescription. This adds to the cost of doing business”, the PPMA office-bearer blasted.
Referring to the famous ‘sunshine laws’, the PPMA official said laws and regulations in the developed world prohibit doctors to even take a pen from pharmaceutical companies. Everything has to be declared and showed the conflict of interest been managed.
The issue was also discussed in a recent round of a wide ranging structured dialogue the new State Minister of Health, Dr Zafar Mirza has initiated with the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), a representative body of companies.
A two monthly forum with industry is being appreciated by the PPMA representatives as a unique ongoing engagement between government and industry and which is unprecedented. It is one of the many initiatives of the new minister.
“It is indeed helping us a lot, never before we had this kind of opportunity where frank technical discussions could take place. It is helping us to resolve many outstanding chronic issues in an honest and transparent way. We are very appreciative of this level of government engagement and this will go a long way”, said Mr Zahid Saeed, Chairman of the PPMA.
The issue of relationship between pharmaceutical companies and medical profession was interestingly raised by some members of the central committee of PPMA and government was requested to more effectively and closely regulate especially the sponsorships of scientific conferences.
The State Minister assured the industry for appropriate regulations and enforcement but he also reminded the companies to abide by the WHO Ethical Criteria for Medicinal Drug Promotion.
Many technical issues related with Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan were also discussed and time bound resolution was agreed between PPMA and CEO of DRAP, Mr Asim Rauf. The State Minister in particular raised the issue of continued shortage of some essential medicines from the market to which PPMA assured him of cooperation.
Two technical sub-committees were formed to address some specific issues. The sub-committees will report back to the next forum meeting in September