Contributed By Walder Wyss Ltd
The Pharma Cooperation Code applies to, amongst others, the co-operation between pharmaceutical companies and patient organisations. It states that such co-operation and the pecuniary benefits granted in return must not constitute an inducement to recommend, prescribe, acquire, supply, sell or administer specific medicines. Pharmaceutical companies may not offer, promise or grant any inappropriate benefits to patient organisations including, in particular, any gifts (either in cash or non-cash considerations; rule 14 Pharma Cooperation Code).
The Pharma Cooperation Code contains various further provisions and principles in that regard in rule 3. An important principle is that of the independence of patient organisations. Pharmaceutical companies may not demand of patient organisations to be the sole pharmaceutical company to provide financial or other support for them, both for overall support and support for individual projects. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies may neither require patient organisations to promote certain specific prescription-only medicines nor may they agree to requests in that regard made by patient organisations. In addition, the aims, scope and agreement on support and partnerships must be evidenced in writing and be transparent. Pharmaceutical companies must disclose the annual pecuniary benefits that they have granted to individual patient organisations and keep such information accessible to the public for at least three years after the date of disclosure.
The Pharma Cooperation Code further states that consultancy and services by patient organisations are permitted only if such consultancy tasks or services are provided to support healthcare or research. The need for the consultancy tasks or services must be justified and clearly designated and documented in the written agreement. The scope of the consultancy tasks or services must be no greater than is reasonably necessary to satisfy the specified requirement. Furthermore, the contractually retained pharmaceutical company must record the consultancy tasks and services provided and make expedient use thereof. The compensation for the consultancy tasks or services must be reasonable and may not exceed the normal market value of such consultancy tasks or services. In this connection, no sham contracts may be concluded to justify payments for patient organisations. The pharmaceutical companies must include provisions in their contracts with patient organisations stipulating that the patient organisation must disclose the fact that it has provided paid consultancy tasks or services for the pharmaceutical company whenever it writes or speaks in public on a topic that is the subject of the contract or on other matters that relate to the particular pharmaceutical company.
In connection with events and hospitality, the Pharma Cooperation Code specifies that events are to be held on premises that are appropriate and conducive to the main purpose of the event. Their choice should be guided primarily by the space and infrastructure availability with a view to the appropriate performance of the main purpose. Premises that are famous for their entertainment facilities or regarded as extravagant are to be avoided. Hospitality in connection with events must be confined to the journey, subsistence, accommodation and participation fees. In principle, hospitality may only be granted to persons who are entitled to it as participants. Hospitality must not include the support (sponsorship) or organisation of entertainment (eg sport or leisure activities). In principle, pharmaceutical companies may not organise or sponsor events that are held outside Switzerland.