Irish health exec raises doc-industry question

Will the microscope on doc-pharma relationships move to Ireland? The country's Health Service chief is proposing that the government consider somehow regulating financial ties between doctors and drugmakers. A statement from Ireland's HSE said CEO Brendan Drumm believes that "it is worth considering whether some degree of regulation in this country would benefit the drug industry and the medical profession."

In his letter to the Irish Department of Health secretary general, Drumm cited a self-regulatory code of conduct recently authorized by Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission. That code offers rules for pharma sponsorship of medical conferences, pharma-paid travel and lodging, and drugmaker promotions to doctors.

The Irish pharma trade group already has its own code of marketing practices, which sets out some guidelines for ethical behavior, emphasizing the industry's role as an "educator" of doctors about drugs and treatments. If the government gets involved, however, those guidelines are likely to change. And with the financial ties among docs and industry getting more and more attention these days, the Irish government's involvement may come soon.

- read the story from the Irish Times