The Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mark Butler, issued this release yesterday, clearly intending to allay concerns raised by the Sydney Morning Herald’s stories sounding the alarm about the marketing and use of medical devices.
Instead, he seems to have added fuel to the fire – at least, according to Dr Ken Harvey, who argues that the Government and TGA are making things all too cosy for the industry, at the expense of the public interest.
“Australian Medicines Policy is meant to be based on partnership with all the players, including consumers and health professionals. It is not meant to be a bilateral relationship between the Therapeutic Goods Administration and industry.
Yet, once again (see Mark Butler’s press release):
“The TGA is meeting with all the therapeutic industry associations next week to discuss their respective codes and consider potential strategies for a way forward.”
and Mr Butler said:
“I look forward to receiving advice on industry agreed options for working together to strengthen codes of conduct, provide a level playing field, and ensure that self-regulation retains public and Government confidence.”
In my opinion, these bilateral consultations between the TGA and industry are not in accord with the spirit of Australian Medicines Policy and the debate on ethical promotion must be opened up to include health professional and consumer groups as well.
Self-regulation is ultimately self-serving and these matters should not be left solely to the pharmaceutical industry.
If you agree, I suggest you communicate your concern to Mark Butler (as I have done).”
• Dr Ken Harvey is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, School of Public Health, La Trobe University