27 April 2022

Expanded role for the pharmaceutical industry in healthcare delivery is against patient interests

Amid the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to expand its involvement and commercial influence on healthcare delivery, European Doctors caution that it should never become a part of the decision-making process in the treatment course.
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Healthcare delivery involves various people and organisations cooperating across professional and institutional boundaries. Among them, patients, healthcare professionals, suppliers, payers and policymakers play different roles and have distinct competences and obligations in relation to each other. 

These stakeholders largely differ in their perspectives, needs and particular objectives. Consequently, the analysis of their respective interests and influence is critical to ensure that the boundaries between their roles are not blurred, as this may risk the patient’s interests being overshadowed by other considerations.  

In light of this, European doctors observe the pharmaceutical industry’s proposals for changing the culture of healthcare delivery and the allocation of resources to “high-value”, carefully coordinated and holistic care. These proposals call for transforming the way healthcare is financed and provided, and adapting the roles different actors can play in the process. 

In this way, the industry seems to reposition itself from a manufacturer to a co-creator of health systems and an equal partner in integrated care. The proposed redefinition can be interpreted as an attempt to expand the industry’s involvement and commercial influence on healthcare delivery e.g., through industry-owned or sponsored clinics and online pharmacies, and by using collected patient information for commercial purposes.

While recognising the industry’s key role in advancing research and development of innovative treatments, European doctors caution that the industry should never become a part of the decision-making process in the treatment course. Any influence of the industry on treatment decisions creates a conflict of interest that is detrimental to patients and health systems.

It is of utmost importance that healthcare development and delivery remains independent of commercial considerations.

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