This blog is part of the GMTCC 2018 blog series. You can follow the conversation under #GMTCC and find more details and at gmtcc.com. Check out related blogs: Swifter, Higher, Stronger: Promoting MedTech Ethics on the Global Stage, How to create and maintain an ethical culture, Progress and new challenges after 10 years of collaboration, Distributors play key role in compliance,New industry code must safeguard independent medical education and Health data can transform our lives-but must be used wisely
Trust between patients and their physicians is critical in healthcare. It empowers patients and enables them to make informed decisions knowing that their caregivers have their best interests in mind. Though the practice of medicine does vary in different parts of the world this is a universal constant.
As such it is important that everyone understands how healthcare professionals interact with the industries, which provide the tools of modern medicine. The medical technology sector is one of those key industries which develops and provides novel solutions to healthcare problems old and new.
The Global Medical Technology Alliance (GMTA), of which MedTech Europe is a founding member, represents the medical technology industry around the globe. We are proud to announce that the Alliance has agreed on a set of global principles of ethical business practices through a Joint Global Ethical Declaration. One of the most important missions of the GMTA has been to advance compliance and ethical business practices globally, in way that promotes innovation and enhances patient access to innovative technologies. The recognition of these principles which are universally applicable is a key step in ensuring this.
The GMTA principles lay down simple and pragmatic approaches for the development of codes of ethics for industry around the world, underpinned by two simple concepts:
1) Supporting the development, research and use of innovative technologies for the benefit of the patient
2) Addressing the key interactions of the Companies with healthcare professionals (HCPs) and healthcare organizations (HCOs) through Codes of Ethics.
Firstly, the medical technology sector continues to support the development, research and use of innovative technologies for the advancement of medicine, which requires the collaboration between HCPs and industry. This support needs to be done in a predefined and transparent way, where support goes directly to organizations that promote healthcare, such as scientific or medical societies, rather than individual physicians. This support and the interactions with the organizations involved should be intended to advance the practice of medicine in general, while maintaining the independence of individual physicians.
Secondly, there are cases where interaction between individual healthcare professionals and companies is necessary, as the HCPs are those who know best the issues and opportunities in front of healthcare. For instance, in the medical technology industry, there are situations where training is needed to use advanced medtech solutions or where the input of healthcare professionals is needed to develop new ones. In those cases, the interactions between companies and healthcare professionals need to follow strict and clear rules, transcribed in Codes of Ethics.
In Europe, for example, we entered in a new phase of the MedTech Europe Code of Ethical Business Practice on the 1st of January 2018. It is no longer allowed for companies to provide direct financial support to individual HCPs to attend either local or international Third Party Organised Events, and this is done through Educational Grants provided to HCOs instead. We are delighted that not only MedTech Europe, but also AdvaMed China, Mecomed, and APACMed have decided to take the same path to enhance compliance practices across the globe. The joint CEO statement from earlier this year may be found here.
The Global Medical Technology Alliance will continue to work with its members and others on the implementation of these ethical principles as this is the global responsibility we all need to take. Having these principles documented is the start of the path to a more effective and transparent relationship between the medtech industry and healthcare professionals to advance medical technologies, innovation and patient care around the whole globe.
Jesús Rueda Rodríguez
Director International Affairs MedTech Europe