We are on the cusp of introducing a mechanism to disclose value transfers between health professionals and EFPIA Member Companies. But, with the June 2016 deadline looming, learning from those who are already experiencing this form of transparency could save us significant heartache further down the line.
So let’s take a look at how it is being handled in the Czech Republic and see where we can identify the positives and the pitfalls in an EU Member State that is already preparing a central database for disclosure.
It has been by no means a smooth ride this far, given the difficult environment with which we were faced. From the outset, our determination to push the disclosure agenda was met with initial opposition from doctors, scientific/medical societies and healthcare opinion leaders.
Something of a breakthrough, however, was made with regard to the medical societies. It took time and a hefty amount of explanation, but we were eventually able to get the point across that disclosure of value transfers between healthcare professionals and the industry was a trend-setting initiative that reflected the drive towards greater transparency across the healthcare sector.
It is likely that the existence of non-legislative disclosure – that is “self-regulation” – also played a role in this gradual change of heart. Whatever the case may be, this is a welcome shift in the right direction.
In contrast to the hesitancy registered from some stakeholders, the research-based pharmaceutical industry has been united in its commitment to drive this forward. In fact, our member companies reacted extremely positively towards introducing the disclosure policy and became very active in implementing the initiative. Moreover, by presenting a unified front, we were able to secure the agreement of the office for data security for our plans.
What we were seeking to do, was to develop a system that would satisfy doctors, but one to which the general public could also relate. The aim has been to point out the positive facts of cooperation and its benefits.
To help promote the disclosure initiative we developed a range of tools. They include: a presentation on disclosure, its importance and its processes; a video; a question and answer and information leaflet; and an explicative brochure. What we are also seeking to promote is a proactive media communications strategy. We have also secured the patronage of the Ministry of Health, who has contributed to our joint communications effort. All communication, though, must be channelled through AIFP.
So where do we need to head in 2016? Well, the simplest task will be to identify those individuals who are willingly seeking to disclose their relationship. Beyond that, we will also have to comb the central database and ascertain the identities of those who are not registered.
About the author
Jakub Dvořáček is Executive Director at AIFP.2