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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14778

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: news

Shanahan L.
Drugs chief won't curtail spending
The Age (Melbourne) 2008 Dec 11


Full text:

THE head of the body representing drug companies in Australia has refused to impose a limit on the amount pharmaceutical companies spend at educational events for doctors.

Despite some companies splurging almost half-a-million dollars on individual events for doctors in the past year, Medicines Australia chairman Will Delaat said that he would not limit the amount spent on education and hospitality at conferences and seminars.

“There is no single limit that we should be applying because it depends very much on the content of the education and the circumstances under which that education is provided,” Mr Delaat told the National Press Club yesterday.

Pharmaceutical companies spent $63 million on more than 30,000 events between June 2007 and July 1 this year, despite the introduction of tougher reporting requirements.

Many events were held at luxury hotels and resorts, with meals and accommodation paid for by drug companies. The companies provide information on drugs that they hope doctors will later prescribe to patients.

Mr Delaat said companies would know “notionally” how much they should be spending on such events. “I think most companies have there own internal guidelines and their own notional limits about what is appropriate,” he said.

Medicines Australia works as both a lobby group and regulator for drug manufacturers and has the power to fine companies that are thought to have breached the code of conduct.

Mr Delaat also warned the Government against cutting back on the $7 billion publicly funded pharmaceutical benefits scheme in order to save money in the global financial crisis.

Recently there has been speculation that Treasury will seek to make budget cuts on the amount given to the PBS as well as raise the maximum co-payment that consumers must pay for drugs, currently at around $35.

“My message to Treasury is very clear: don’t jeopardise the PBS,” Mr Delaat said.

“It is a false economy to cut a federal health program that delivers a net saving to the state health system, because saving to the states is a saving to the nation.”

 

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There is no sin in being wrong. The sin is in our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs, and in believing that our authorities cannot be wrong. Far from creating cynics, such a story is likely to foster a healthy and creative skepticism, which is something quite different from cynicism.”
- Neil Postman in The End of Education