Tuesday 12 December 2017

Analysis: When does pay become marketing?

How much does the payment of staff wages influence the way a hospital applies treatment or its prescribing patterns? (Stock picture)
How much does the payment of staff wages influence the way a hospital applies treatment or its prescribing patterns? (Stock picture)

When does financial support for a hospital or doctor by a drugs company become a marketing exercise? It's probably impossible to separate both.

The extent to which drug companies are paying for staff involved in research and other duties in children's hospitals raises new questions about the potential conflict of interest.

How much does the payment of staff wages influence the way a hospital applies treatment or its prescribing patterns?

The vital funding may make all the difference to a child with a particular disease and allow access to treatment and timely care that may otherwise be unaffordable by the hospital.

Where research is concerned the findings are fed back to the drugs company, informing its insights for the development of new medicines.

The hospitals insist that all these transactions have to be given the green light by their ethics committees, and the drugs companies say that they are also bound by new rules which mean they have to be transparent about these payments.

However, the information published is still limited and lacks detail.

It mostly involves payments to doctors for attending conferences abroad, including travel and accommodation costs.

It is good to hear that the Health Minister Simon Harris has taken an interest in this area, and has asked HSE chief Tony O'Brien to report back to him.

This is set to lead to a new drive to ensure compliance.

But this mutual dependence between hospital and doctors on the one hand and drugs companies on the other continues, despite the unease.

Irish Independent

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