Top cops caught up in taps probe
THE NSW government watchdog is investigating allegations that one of the state’s most senior police officers misled the public and that another senior officer allegedly misled other police in relation to a series of controversial corruption inquiries.
The NSW Ombudsman’s inquiry is investigating whether more than 100 police officers and civilians, including Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas, were the subject of covert surveillance recordings between 1998 and 2002.
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Doctors want tea and biscuit payments kept secret
DOCTORS are resisting a push by drug companies to reveal the full extent of the payments they make to medicos for speeches, consultancy work, overseas trips and meals.
Instead, the Australian Medical Association wants only payments over $500 to be publicly reported.
And it does not want drug companies to report on a doctor-by-doctor basis the morning teas and lunches pharmaceutical company sales people buy when they meet a doctor to promote a product.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has given the pharmaceutical industry two years to set up an improved transparency scheme.
The push to disclose the extent of the medical gravy train is designed to combat claims that doctors may have a conflict of interest if they prescribe drugs made by a company that supports them financially.
AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton says the organisation supports increased transparency.
“We want to maintain the confidence of the public and there’s nothing like shining a light to boost confidence,” he says.
But he says reporting tea and biscuits payments would be too administratively cumbersome and possibly undermine the transparency system.
The AMA has outlined limits it wants on transparency in a submission to a working party on the issue. These include a call for each report to be public for just two years, an explanation from the doctor about why they accepted the payment and a requirement patients accessing the information supply their email address to a registry.
For several years medicine companies have been required by the industry’s Code of Conduct to publish information about the $70-$80 million a year they spend on events for doctors.
From January all major pharmaceutical companies were required to tally up how much in aggregate they paid doctors for working on advisory boards, attending medical conferences and giving speeches.
Earlier this year the world’s second-biggest drug company GlaxoSmithKline revealed it spent $2.5 million funding overseas trips, speaking fees and donations for doctors in 2012.
By 2015 the ACCC wants companies to reveal for the first time how much each doctor receives in payments from drug companies.
A former drug firm saleswoman, Petra Helesic, revealed in 2011 individual doctors could earn up to $10,000 a year in speakers fees.
She said specialists known as opinion leaders in their field had first class airfares and five star accommodation funded by pharmaceutical companies when they wanted to attend overseas medical conferences that often turned into holidays.
Medicines Australia, which represents the large pharmaceutical companies, says greater transparency will combat concerns these payments compromise the doctors’ decision-making process.
What pharmaceutical companies give doctors
* First class airfares and five star accommodation at overseas medical conferences
* Consulting fees for providing services to a drug company
* Speaking fees for speaking at an event
* Sitting fees for serving on advisory boards
* Clinical research payments
* Cheap deals when medicines are purchased in bulk
* Tea, coffee and lunch at regular hospital meetings
* Lunch or morning tea when drug company representatives meet a GP in their surgery to promote a product
* Meals and entertainment at pharmaceutical company events promoting new treatments
- Key Opinion Leaders in medicine are paid to have an opinion (ethicalnag.org)
- Is Your Doctor Actually the Pharmaceutical Company (addictiontreatmentideas.wordpress.com)
- The Truth About Drug Companies (naturalhealthyconcepts.com)
- The rule of seven touches (ethicalnag.org)
- Western University launches rare probe after drug company allegedly exerted ‘undue influence’ on eye doctors (news.nationalpost.com)