Medicines Australia has a code of conduct to guide the promotion of prescription drugs by pharmaceutical companies in Australia.1 Complaints are reviewed by the Code of Conduct Committee and the results are published in its annual report. The report for 2005-06 is available on the Medicines Australia website.2

There were 27 new complaints in 2005-06. Seven are unresolved, but the report includes three complaints held over from the previous year. The Code of Conduct Committee found breaches in 11 of the complaints it finalised (Table 1).

The number of complaints coming from health professionals almost equalled the number made by companies about their competitors. In one case eight pharmaceutical companies were alleged to have breached the Code of Conduct with their advertisements in electronic prescribing software.3 The Code of Conduct Committee required six of these companies to revise their advertising.

During the year the Code of Conduct Committee had to consider whether a venue was of more than 'reasonable quality'. It also judged if the hospitality offered to specialists was 'sumptuous' or 'simple and modest'. Probably for the first time the Code was applied across the Tasman. A cruise vessel on Auckland harbour was not considered to be an appropriate place for an educational event.

In total 11 complaints were found to have identified breaches of the Code of Conduct. Details of the complaints can be found in the annual report.2 Analysis of these complaints should lead to improvements in the Code. The 15th edition of the Code of Conduct should be available in 2007.

References

  1. Medicines Australia. Code of Conduct. 14th ed. Canberra: Medicines Australia; 2003.
  2. 2006 Code of Conduct Annual Report. Canberra: Medicines Australia; 2006. www.medicinesaustralia.com.au [cited 2006 Nov 10]
  3. Harvey KJ, Vitry AI, Roughead E, Aroni R, Ballenden N, Faggotter R. Pharmaceutical advertisements in prescribing software: an analysis. Med J Aust 2005;183:75-9.