Sick of Expensive Prescriptions? Indonesian Doctors Association Offers a Cure
If you’re sick of paying for expensive prescription drugs at your physician’s urging, the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) said on Wednesday that it is ready to hear your complaint.
“If there are indications of [being prescribed] too expensive medicine, or if you go to the doctor 10 times and get the same medicine over and over again [without results], and the evidence is clear, please send us a written report,” said Agus Purwadianto, head of IDI’s medical ethics council.
Agus said a limited number of health economy experts in Indonesia to provide trustworthy information and the reluctance of people to report doctors had led to many doctors conspiring with the pharmaceutical industry, receiving kickbacks from pharmacists for prescribing expensive drugs.
“There is also a snob paradigm among people — that without expensive [medicine], they won’t be healed.”
Agus said IDI was very serious about supervising its doctors and preventing code of conduct violations. The association recently gained more power to question doctors who are accused of receiving bribes, as well as the alleged bribers.
“In the past, we were only allowed to question the doctors and get a one-sided explanation, but now we can summon both parties in the investigation,” he said. “If it is proven, the doctor will be sanctioned.”
The 2009 Law on Medical Practice’s Article 62, which includes the doctor’s oath, states: “I hereby promise to conduct my duties within ethical means and will not accept from anyone, directly or indirectly, a pledge or a gift.”
The International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group said it would impose stricter regulations on its members to prevent bribery to doctors.
“We have revised the ethics code of IPMG and tightened it,” Allen Doumit, head of IPMG’s market practices subcommittee, said on Wednesday.
Under this code of conduct, the pharmaceutical industry is not allowed to offer gifts or services to doctors and medical staff that might cause a conflict of interest.
If, for example, a pharmaceutical company wanted to sponsor a doctor to attend seminar or conference abroad, the doctor should leave just one day prior to the event and return a day after its conclusion at the latest.
“We could not send doctor a week before the event or on an additional trip that is not related to the event,” Allen said.
Allen said under the old code of conduct, pharmaceutical companies were not forbidden from indulging doctors with lavish hotel suites or business class plane tickets, but such offerings would be regulated under the new code.
“We hope the government could be involved to supervise this,” Allen said.
Only 24 pharmaceutical companies out of more than 200 in Indonesia are members of IPMG. Allen said that though many are not members of IPMG, all pharmaceutical companies should heed the organization’s ethics standards.
“We are really serious in upholding the ethics. Recently we warned a pharmaceutical company that sent flowers to a hospital.”