“I think it is important that HCPs and the pharmaceutical industry remain focused on their individual core activities, strengths and limitations. To me, the ethical challenge in any collaboration is how to work together despite having different overall aims, expectations and legal limitations. As an HCP, I can work with pharma on scientific issues, medical questions and a dialogue for better understanding. I cannot, however, be seen as a collaborator on joint educational projects as I see that as inappropriate because of the inherent COI of the pharma industry, and this is in my view a good example of where the arms-length principle is important.
I worry when I see the pharmaceutical industry expanding education of HCPs, supporting patient groups/organizations or working directly with public payors. In my view, the core activity of the pharmaceutical industry is the discovery and production of drugs. No one else does this and dilution of this activity will invariably lead to poorer future treatments. I fear that more and more companies will – even in the short term – expand their activities into other buyer/user/payor-focused activities, often areas where COIs are unavoidable. I would hope for a closer collaboration in new ways of discovering and delivering drugs for the benefit of the industry, HCPs – and patients.”
Jorgen Vestbo, President, European Respiratory Society, Switzerland