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Medicines Australia considers industry’s relationship with Health Consumer Organisations (HCOs) to be important and mutually beneficial. We encourage our companies to have transparency and open relationships with HCOs that foster respect and trust and can withstand public scrutiny. The pharmaceutical industry is the owner of information about products and should be involved in sharing that information appropriately with patients. That said, all interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and patients or HCOs are ultimately bound by the law, which in this case is the Therapeutic Goods Act’s prohibition of promoting to the general public. We know the interpretation of this legislation can often cause a challenge between industry and HCOs, which is why we provide clear advice in the Working Together Guide.

The Working Together Guide is an online resource of case studies and information for having appropriate interactions between industry and HCOs. It has been designed in partnership with the Consumers Health Forum. We are often asked why we only have a guide for HCOs, and not for anyone else… the answer is simple, we do – The Code of Conduct. Industry’s ability to communicate with a healthcare professional audience is not as restricted as it is with a patient audience. The Code provides the framework for how those interactions can be held in a way that is appropriate, ethical and in line with the Therapeutic goods Act. The Working Together Guide supplements the Code to help ensure that clear information is being provided to patient groups in an ethical and transparent way.

The principle is that industry can have a productive and proactive relationship with HCOs, with the objective of enhancing the quality use of medicines and supporting better health outcomes for the Australian community.

For advice on the code or a particular scenario, drop a note to the help desk. Remember, if in doubt – reach out!