Makers of drugs restricted from sponsoring doctors

Those who breach the rule risk a fine. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Those who breach the rule risk a fine. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Pharmaceutical firms have been barred from sponsoring doctors through scholarships, consulting contracts and grants, which are believed to influence the prescription of medicine to patients.

Those who breach the rule risk a fine that will be determined by the ethics committee of the Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI), according to a new code aimed at curbing unethical practices involving drug manufacturers.

“All our members are now bound by the rules, which restrict them from corrupting doctors or any other healthcare professionals,” said KAPI chairperson Anastasia Nyalita on Monday.

“No financial benefit or benefit in kind including grants, scholarships, subsidies, support, consulting contracts, educational or practice-related items may be provided or offered to a healthcare professional as an inducement for prescribing, recommending, purchasing, supplying or administering products or for a commitment to continue to do so.”

The penalties will be assessed by the Ethics and Compliance Committee in line with the Arbitration Act.

The Kenya Medical Association (KMA) has supported KAPI’s move on self-regulation.

“They have awakened the rest of the industry and it is now on the medical professional associations to establish their code of conduct as regards their interactions with pharma industry,” said Jacqueline Kitulu, the KMA chair.

Signed the code

Both local and multinational pharmas such as Glaxo Smithkline, Adcock Ingram East Africa, Astra Zeneca, Bayer E.A Ltd, Novartis Pharma Services Inc and Pfizer Laboratories Ltd have signed the code.

This comes four months after the Health ministry gazetted new rules meant to safeguard unsuspecting Kenyans from unnecessary referrals abroad for treatment available locally.

Cases of greedy doctors referring patients abroad for kickbacks of up to Sh200,000 per referral have been rampant with the ministry promising to revoke licenses for those found guilty.

Last year, the Health ministry acknowledged receiving reports on the unethical practice and launched investigations into the claims.
The outcome of the inquiry is yet to be released.