The Disclosure Code represents a contribution from the industry to the modernisation and reform needed to restore the country’s economy

Across Europe, charities, companies and welfare groups have set up and contributed to food banks to help out those who have been impoverished by the Euro financial crisis.

Nowhere did the crisis strike harder than in Greece, where alongside food poverty, austerity measures also had an extreme impact on access to medicines, with estimates that almost a third of the population could not get the medicines they needed.

The industry body, the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE) took the initiative to establish a Medicines Bank, to centrally coordinate a number of separate aid initiatives and oversee the collection, storage and distribution of free medicines for unemployed and uninsured people.

While the SFEE wanted to help to ensure that the economic crisis did not become a health crisis too, the cuts in public spending that followed on from the International Monetary Fund’s bailout have weakened Greece’s healthcare system.

Konstantinos Frouzis, President of SFEE believes that the code on financial disclosure, launched by the industry in October, can contribute both to strengthening healthcare and helping restore the economy. “This new code will make a positive contribution to the overall effort that our country is making to get back on a path of growth,” said Frouzis, when the code was launched at an event in Athens on 9 October.

A new era

Transparency will open the way to greater public understanding of the importance of the relationship between the pharma industry and healthcare professionals and organisations, and the role that this interchange plays in improving healthcare and promoting innovation.

“By this new initiative, we aim to bring to the surface the healthy relationships between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals, making them more transparent and therefore more easily understood by patients, healthcare stakeholders, and of course the public at large,” Frouzis said at the launch, adding, “Today, the SFEE Disclosure Code is ushering in a new era”.

Frouzis committed the industry to play its part in helping to restore Greece’s healthcare system, saying, “We pledge to step up our efforts to support the ongoing education and training of the scientific community, with a view to improving the quality of treatment, research and care in general.”

Positive influences

Marie‐Claire Pickaert, Deputy Director General of EFPIA, agreed that mistrust stands in the way of the industry making its full contribution. “The pharmaceutical industry is a valuable asset to Europe in many ways, but mistrust in the industry still remains a hurdle to it realising its full potential to drive health and growth for Europe,” she said.

The EFPIA disclosure code is one of many initiatives to address this. Interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare professionals have a profound and positive influence on the quality of treatment and the value of future research.

“At the same time EFPIA recognises that such interactions can create the potential for conflicts of interest. EFPIA and its member organisation and companies have adopted codes to ensure that these interactions meet the high standards of integrity that patients, governments and other stakeholders expect,” Pickaert said.