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July 19, 2019

Fed up with demands of sponsoring medical conferences, companies urge ministry to intervene


July 19, 2019

KARACHI: Fed up with never ending demands from medical professionals, medical associations and societies for sponsoring medical conferences, seminars and moots, the pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan has asked the federal health ministry to formulate rules and a comprehensive framework for organizing medical conferences so only quality events could be held to help improve knowledge, skills and practices. “Sometimes rival doctors’ groups in same speciality hold multiple conferences at expensive 5 star venues bringing down the quality. These 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-bearers maintained the conferences should do value addition to the knowledge and practices of busy healthcare professionals. “Mere, grand national and international get-togethers along with doctors’ families where companies are asked to foot the bills do not serve the cause.

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 any conflict of interest is proceeded against.

The issue was also discussed with the new State Minister of Health, Dr Zafar Mirza and the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA).

A two monthly forum with industry is 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 Zahid Saeed, Chairman of the PPMA.

The relationship between pharmaceutical companies and medical profession is raised by some members of the central committee of PPMA and the government was requested to more effectively and closely regulate 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, Asim Rauf. The state minister 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 the specific issues. The sub-committees will report back to the next forum meeting in September.

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