1. HCOs and true partnership
A passionate consumer advocate panel discussed health consumer organisations’ (HCOs) needs. The messages were consistent: HCOs have a strong desire to partner with pharma companies, but these relationships must be based on trust, transparency and respect. Ainslie Cahill from Arthritis Australia likened the relationship between HCOs and industry to ‘unrequited love’. She said to achieve great health outcomes, HCOs and pharmaceutical companies needed to form true partnerships and work together.
2. Pharma industry outlook
In signature style, MA CEO Brendan Shaw provided a snapshot of the current local and global pharma situation. He spoke of the industry’s value, quoting recent member economic survey findings, and introduced the latest MA FactsBook. He also acknowledged the industry’s future challenges: its image, declining sales growth, policy issues and the MOU, regulatory and reimbursement reform, and, of course, the looming patent cliff.
3. Hypothetical code
Dr Norman Swan from ABC Radio National facilitated a fascinating hypothetical that addressed loopholes and inconsistencies in the promotion of medicines to consumers. The conference’s closing session, the hypothetical demonstrated that while an overarching code of conduct would be ideal, some commonality between codes would enhance quality use of medicines and consumer protection, while providing a level playing field for medicine producers.
4. They don’t know us
In an eye-opening presentation, Marielle Ewington from H&T said results of an MA-commissioned project showed the general public had neutral feelings towards – and little or no understanding of – the pharmaceutical industry. The project also showed the public had limited understanding of the PBS, i.e. what it funds, what medicines should cost, or the level of government subsidy.
5. Pats on the back
The Pat Clear Award is the Australian pharmaceutical industry’s most prestigious award. It honours an individual, team or group’s outstanding commitment to the benefit of the Australian medicines industry. Dell Kingsford-Smith from Janssen-Cilag won this year’s award in recognition of her leadership in negotiations with the Department of Health and Aging, which has led to improved transparency in the PBS listing process. The celebrations continued with a cake-cutting ceremony to mark 50 years of MA’s Code of Conduct.