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Medical Council launches updated guidance on relationships with industry

The revised guidance is a support tool which will assist doctors to act in the best interests of the patient, so as they are not influenced by any personal consideration. The guidance should be used in conjunction with the Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners (8th Edition).

The guidance, which was drafted following a targeted consultation process with key stakeholders, features a number of updates and new additions, including information on the acceptance of gifts and hospitality, ethics on meeting attendance and sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies, along with other relevant industry topics that are subject to industry regulation.

One of the questions posed in the document is whether doctors should charge a fee for a visit by a sales representative. “The [ethical] Guide does not give specific guidance on this matter. However, it is likely that the Medical Council would view the charging of fees for visits by sales representatives as unacceptable,” states the document.

Ms Úna O’Rourke, Director of Education, Training and Professionalism at the Medical Council, said: “Professionalism is at the core of the patient doctor relationship and is absolutely fundamental for patient safety and the delivery of high-quality healthcare. This latest guidance document developed by the Medical Council is a support tool which demonstrates how doctors are expected to behave and act ethically when working and interacting with industry bodies.

“This document aims to answer doctors’ questions about what is ethically acceptable when dealing with pharmaceutical and medical devices companies. It clarifies the ethical guidance the Medical Council gives to doctors in relation to their dealings with such companies,” concluded Ms O’Rourke.

A doctor has a duty and responsibility to be familiar with the latest guidelines, regulations and developments in medication and device safety. Their main responsibility is to act in the best interests of the patient and should not be influenced by any personal consideration.

The Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics (8th Edition 2016) states that doctors should not rely solely on promotional literature distributed by pharmaceutical companies for information about particular drugs or medical devices. Instead, they should source independent, evidence-based information on the benefits and risks of all medication and medical devices before they prescribe them.

The new guidance is available to view at

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