The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has just adopted measures to enhance the PhRMA Code dealing with Interactions with Healthcare Professionals. (PhRMA represents research-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.) Attacks on the marketing practices of drug makers is a common feature in pharmaceutical mass torts, including criticisms of the relationships between healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies.

Informative professional relationships between healthcare providers and pharmaceutical research companies are instrumental to effective patient care. While plaintiffs frequently malign interactions between the companies and prescribers, doctors appropriately rely on information about new medicines in order to enhance the quality of care they give patients. Providing doctors with up-to-date information on the medicines they prescribe improves patient care. Thus, reasons for interaction include:

• inform healthcare professionals about the benefits and risks of products to help advance appropriate patient use,
• provide scientific and educational information,
• support medical research and education, and
• obtain feedback and advice about our products through consultation with medical experts.

The new code will take effect in January, 2009. The code is voluntary, reflecting the fact that different companies may approach the issues differently, all well within the range of choices available to a reasonable manufacturer in a competitive environment.