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2 Comments

  1. 1

    Ken Harvey

    I have no problems with a drug company donating money to research institutes and publicising their philanthropy.

    I also have no problems with the research institution accepting and acknowledging such support so long as all the details of the arrangement are transparent.

    But I do have a problem with a drug company making their financial support to a research institute dependent upon doctors writing a script for a company product.

    I have a greater problem with a research institute going along with this arrangement and allowing their logo to placed on such advertisements.

    Section 7.1.2 of the current (15th Edition) of Medicines Australia’s (MA) Code of Conduct says, “No sponsorship should be conditional upon any obligation to prescribe a particular product. Nothing should be offered or provided in a manner or on conditions that would interfere with the independence of a healthcare professional’s prescribing or dispensing practices”.

    While “sponsorship” is undefined in the MA Code, in my opinion this arrangement between Sanofi-Aventis and the Baker Institute that provides the Institute with 25 cents for each prescription of Plavix certainly interferes with the independence of a prescribing doctor. It is thus is a potential breach of Section 7.1.2 of the MA Code.

    In the future, this arrangement is also likely to impact on the cost of drugs to patients. Currently, clopidogrel is jointly patented and marketed in Australia by Sanofi-Aventis as Plavix and by Bristol-Meyers Squibb as Iscover. The products of both companies are available on the PBS for the same price ($80.49 for 28, 75 mg tablets). Plavix had worldwide sales last year of $7.3 billion, making it the world’s second-largest-selling drug.

    Generic clopidogrel has been produced by several pharmaceutical companies and in India is available at about 1/30th the price of the originator. Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb won a patent battle on clopidogrel in the US in 2007 and in Australia in 2008 after Apotex started selling a generic version of the drug. The courts ruled that Apotex could not sell their generic clopidogrel until the patent had expired (2011 in the US and 2013 in Europe).

    This arrangement between Sanofi-Aventis and the Baker Institute is therefore likely to encourage the continued prescription of Plavix after the patent has expired. This will almost certainly result in an increased cost of this drug to patients due to the price premium Sanofi-Aventis is likely to charge over and above the cost of the generic product.

    In conclusion, as well a breaching Section 7.1.2 of the MA Code I argue that this arrangement also breaches Section 10.8 of the Code; “activities engaged in by companies with healthcare professionals that bring discredit upon, or reduce confidence in the pharmaceutical industry”.

    Reply
  2. 2

    zayzayem

    Sanofi will be smacked hard for that one hopefully. Nothing (other than peer reviewed data) should be used to directly encourage increased prescriptions of a product.

    Baker Institute has also messed up big time – but will they be disciplined? They aren’t technically part of the MA.

    Reply

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