Will the Sun Shine All Over Canada? Making Transparent the Financial Relationships of the Medical Industry (Part 2: Towards Effective Transparency)

By Jean-Christophe Bélisle-Pipon

As detailed in Part 1, Ontario government just enacted the Health Sector Payment Transparency Act, a Canadian first in terms of transparency. The act requires that “transfers of value” (or payments), related to medical products (drugs and medical devices), between a payor and a recipient be reported to the Health Ministry. The Act gives the Ministry unprecedented powers to require, analyze, and publish such data online.

A Transformational Act?

Will this act radically transform the practices and the public knowledge that we have about the financial relations of the medical industry? The effective implementation of the regulations will tell us. However, the fact that Innovative Medicines Canada (formerly known as Rx&D, IMC is the organization representing the interests of the pharmaceutical industry in Canada, like PhRMA in the US) has concerns about the Act is a rather positive sign that this legislation might result into pro-social changes. IMC is invoking both ideological concerns (industry’s interactions with HCPs imply cooperation rather than influence) and logistical concerns (“if the threshold for payments is low, a sales representative could easily lose a receipt and forget to report it”), as well as its  own commitment to limiting undue influences. Continue reading

Will the Sun Shine All Over Canada? Making the Financial Relationships of the Medical Industry Transparent (Part 1: Theoretical Transparency)

By Jean-Christophe Bélisle-Pipon

While Canada is often viewed positively for its public, comprehensive, universal, and accessible health care system, not all is rosy. Canada often lags behind other countries in terms of pharmaceutical policies. Sometimes, this is advantageous (e.g., delaying the approval of a product to wait for more clinical data or real-world efficiency, so to better assess risk-benefit and determining the maximum selling price), but more often simply a problem: until recently, transparency in Canada was more a buzzword than a strong and assumed government stance.

However, a few days ago in Ontario, the omnibus Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act received royal assent, thus enacting the Health Sector Payment Transparency Act. This clearly marked the beginning of shedding light on the financial relationships and payments to health care providers and organizations made by the medical industry (pharmaceutical and medical device companies), the explicit goal being to strengthen patient trust in the health care system (including research and education activities) by allowing patients to assess whether their health care providers are subject to influence by industry and to foster more informed choice. While the United States enacted the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA) in 2010, which requires payment disclosure, this is a first in Canada.

The main provisions of the Act Continue reading

Introducing Blogger Jean-Christophe Bélisle-Pipon 

The Petrie-Flom Center is pleased to welcome Jean-Christophe Bélisle-Pipon to the Bill of Health as our newest contributor!

Jean-Christophe is a Visiting Researcher at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School,  a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow, and a Fellow at the Health Law Institute at Dalhousie University.

A bioethicist by training, he is particularly interested in the marketing of health products and the resulting moral responsibility of regulators and industries. While his undergraduate studies in physics led him to pure science, his interest in the field of health and bioethics grew during his experiences in the pharmaceutical industry, where he worked for 6 years in clinical research and regulatory affairs, as well as in business intelligence, sales, and marketing.

His research also focuses on patient engagement in research by exploring ethical and logistical dimensions as well as providing guidance for capacity development of future researchers. Jean-Christophe is also interested in how researchers can engage the general public to reflect on the most pressing ethical issues of our time, including by mingling arts and bioethics to advance these reflections in the public space. He will be the new Managing Editor of the Journal of Law and the Biosciences beginning January 2, 2018.

Welcome, Jean-Christophe!