by Kevin Dunne , Deirdre Nally May-31-2018 in Healthcare Law

The Medical Council has just published important guidance for registered medical practitioners. The guidance deals with relationships between doctors and industry, including pharmaceutical and medical device companies amongst other industry bodies. The new publication should be read in conjunction with the Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics[1] and the Advertising Regulations of 2007[2].

This guidance aims to answer doctors’ questions about what is ethically acceptable when dealing with pharmaceutical and medical device companies and includes advice on the following:-

  • the acceptance by doctors of gifts, hospitality and sponsorship from pharmaceutical, medical devices or other commercial companies;
  • attendance by doctors at promotional or sponsored educational meetings;
  • the charging of fees by doctors for visits by sales representatives;
  • doctors having a financial interest in an organisation or owning a patent on a product which they are recommending to patients;
  • educational sponsorship and funding; and
  • the acceptance of drug samples from pharmaceutical sales representatives.

Like other Medical Council publications, the central tenet of the guidance is that doctors must always act in the best interests of the patient. Financial or personal considerations must not be allowed to influence, or appear to influence, professional judgement. Doctors are to be aware of the possibility of such influence. Transparency is particularly important and any financial interests or relationships are to be disclosed to patients. The guidance also stresses the importance of sourcing independent, evidence-based information.

The guidance can be found here.


For further information please contact Deirdre Nally or Kevin Dunne.


[1] Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners (8th ed), 2016

[2] Medicinal Products (Control of Advertising) Regulations 2007 (SI 541 of 2007)

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