The pharmaceutical industry is the primary source of information about its products and recognises its responsibility for ensuring that this information is accurate and does not mislead.
Promotional and advertising activities are essential as a means of informing health care professionals about the availability and use of new medicines and to advise on new uses for existing medications. This type of information supplements HCPs’ existing knowledge and enables them to provide more effective patient treatment by considering the most up to date remedies.
The advertising of medicinal products in Ireland is regulated by the Medicinal Products (Control of Advertising) Regulations, 2007. These Regulations enact in Irish law Directive 2001/83/EC as amended relating to medicinal products for human use.
IPHA is active in ensuring the highest possible standards of advertising and promotion of both prescription and non-prescription (or consumer healthcare) medicines to both healthcare professionals and the general public alike. It does so by administering a number of Codes, in particular, the Code of Practice and the Code of Advertising Standards for the Consumer Healthcare Industry which set out detailed guidance to assist pharmaceutical companies in complying with the Medicinal Products (Control of Advertising) Regulations, 2007. The objective of these Codes is to ensure the highest possible standards in the promotion and advertising of medicines.
Acceptance and observance of the provisions of the Codes are a condition of membership of the IPHA Companies observing the them also acknowledge that their provisions are to be applied in the spirit, as well as in the letter.
These Regulations and Codes of Practice together with the internal guidelines of companies, provide an efficient and cost-effective mechanism for imposing standards for advertising and promotional practices.
Experience has shown that action taken through self-regulatory codes produces much quicker results than pursuing cases through a legislative process and is significantly less expensive.
The Codes, which have been agreed and adopted by all member companies of the IPHA act not only as a model for the adoption of self-regulatory codes at company level, but they are also operational Codes with a well tried and tested procedure for dealing with allegations of poor marketing practices.
The philosophy behind self-regulation by industry is that “prevention is better than cure”. The IPHA has a complaints procedure to provide a mechanism for dealing with breaches of the Codes after they have occurred but the Codes and other self-regulatory mechanisms have an equally, if not more, important role in encouraging the implementation and monitoring of improved standards for marketing practices in order to prevent the errors from occurring.
The sanction of adverse publicity is one of the powerful deterrents against breaches of Good Marketing Practices. Under the Codes, complaints are referred to the highest level of management. Summary details of breaches of the Codes are published each year.