NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – The Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI) has commenced the rollout of a stringent Code of Practice to foster ethical interactions between the local pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals.
The KAPI code of practice which is a self-regulation tool for the association members (local and multinational pharmaceutical firms) seeks to curb unethical practices in the pharmaceutical market place such as inducements to healthcare professionals in the private and public sector.
Speaking at a Healthcare Professionals Symposium organized by the association KAPI Chairperson Dr Anastasia Nyalita said the new code of practice is geared at enhancing public trust.
The code, which incorporates principles and advice from similar guidelines, in the Pharmaceutical industry worldwide, she explained, provides for punitive penalties for the association members who will fail to adhere to its guidelines.
As part of the Code of Practice enforcement, Pharmaceutical companies have now been banned from providing financial or related inducements to healthcare professionals in an attempt to influence their patient prescriptions.
“All our members are now bound by the Code of Practice, which restricts them from corrupting doctors or any other healthcare professionals prescribing practices,” Dr Nyalita said, adding that, “No financial benefit or benefit in kind (including grants, scholarships, subsidies, support, consulting contracts or educational or practice-related items) may be provided or offered to a healthcare professional as an inducement for prescribing, recommending, purchasing, supplying or administering products or for a commitment to continue to do so.”
The strict enforcement of the Code of Practice, Dr. Nyalita said, has been triggered by the need for more transparency and accountability in interactions with healthcare professionals and the public.
While welcoming the code and its provisions for Health Care professionals, Kenya Medical Association (KMA) National Chairperson Dr Jacqueline Kitulu commended KAPI for the bold step in convening self-regulation protocols.
“They (KAPI) have awakened the rest of the industry, and it is now on the Medical professional associations to self-evaluate and establish their code of conduct as regards their interaction with pharma industry. In the future then we could work towards a unified code of conduct that regulates the pharma industry and professional medical associations. This is a brilliant start and we will support their endeavors,” Dr Kitulu said.
As part of the KAPI Code of Practice, Pharmaceutical firms in Kenya have committed to refrain from offering or giving a gift, provide hospitality, benefits in kind, rebates, discounts, kickbacks or free samples to Health Care Professional (HCP) or government officials in exchange for preferential treatment.
Patient Health Related gifts may however be offered to HCP’s. These must be gift items that will specifically be used for aiding in the treatment of patients (e.g. anatomical models, stethoscopes, medical textbooks / journals / magazines). These items may be given, provided that such items are beneficial to the provision of medical services and for patient care.
The KAPI code is a collection of principles derived from; The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) Code of Practice, 2012, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Association ,South Africa Code of marketing practice, The guidelines for advertisement and Promotion of medicines in Kenya April 2012 (Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons board), The Code of Promotional Practices for Pharmaceutical Representatives in Kenya as well as promotional codes from Turkey and Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare associations.
KAPI and its members are committed to educational and promotional efforts that benefit patients and promotional programs and collaborations that enhance the practice of medicine. KAPI also seeks to preserve the independence of the decisions taken by healthcare professionals in prescribing medicines and using medical technologies for the benefit of patients.