Manal Haddad

Why Does the Pharma Industry Have to Let Go of Self-Regulation Practices?

Over the years, the pharma industry has grown to be an entity on its own. With minimal involvement of outside authorities, the task of enforcing, maintaining and regulating industry standards has always been done on a self-practice basis. This has allowed various companies and sectors of the pharma industry to grow unchecked and engage in less than ethical practices.

While in the past this did work for the pharma industry, in the current climate, these self-regulation practices are definitely hindering healthy growth and allowing for malpractice to occur on a larger scale. Additionally, with media scrutiny and consumer demand, there’s a bigger focus on all the practices that the pharma industry is engaging in.

With a bigger demand for transparency from consumers, there’s a real need to stop self-regulation and focus on a more standardized mode of regulation. But, is this really necessary? To be honest, yes it is.

It Ruins Transparency

A report that involved around 900 different drug companies also highlighted that when it comes to using self-regulation practices, there has been a drastic drop when it comes to the level of transparency in the health care industry, even though changes were made regarding transparency in the reporting requirements.

There’s also a blind spot here which is actively manipulated—while the transparency code makes it mandatory to report company payments that are made to doctors, there are no provisions for any food or beverages being used for the same reason.

Wining and Dining Can Make a Difference

More pharma industries are influencing prescription of medications by doctors by influencing their decision with the help of food and wine. Don’t think it makes much of a difference? A study found that even educational events which provided meals could positively influence the prescribing behavior of the medical professionals.

The exclusion of the transparency code in this area allows pharma drug companies to manipulate loopholes. With self-regulation practices, they’re not actually breaking the law here, and their decision to not report this can further ruin the company’s transparency

Difficulty in Transparency

Even when reports are shared by the pharma industry, there is pronounced difficulty because the layman can’t understand the language used in the reports. This is not only difficult to understand, but it can also be seen as a means of hindering transparency.

This is due to the fact that these reports become worthless for anyone who does not have the technical know-how or understanding of industry-specific terms and jargon. Additionally, transparency reports are submitted in such a haphazard and scattered manner that they are difficult to find as well.

Few Alternatives Available

However, more emphasis is being made to remove these practices that can harm organic growth and create more mistrust between consumers and the pharma industry. However, while the need for removing self-regulation practices has been acknowledged, there are few alternatives available.

Until this happens, it doesn’t seem like the pharma industry will be making any changes regarding their regulation practices.

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