Eliciting views of Australian Pharmaceutical industry employees on collaboration and the concept of Quality Use of Medicines

14 August 2014

Background: Pharmaceutical industry involvement in biomedicine has produced major benefits but has also caused concern. At present, there is no consensus as to how medical and government organizations should relate to the pharmaceutical industry and this is partly due to the absence of systematic study of the various alternatives. In Australia industry cooperation has been elicited via the “Quality Use of Medicines” framework within the “National Medicines Policy”. Little is known about the way employees of pharmaceutical companies respond to the QUM policy and strategies. Aims: We aimed to examine the engagement of the Australian pharmaceutical industry with QUM with a view to assisting medical, government and consumer organisations who may wish to collaborate with industry. Methods: We carried out a qualitative study using in-depth, semi-structured interviews with industry employees, primarily from medical and regulatory affairs departments. Results: Employees of pharmaceutical companies claim that collaboration is important, and that they are altruistic and committed to QUM. At the same time, there is little evidence from this study to support the notion that QUM has brought about structural changes to industry or is positioned as the central goal or framework in designing a company’s operational strategies. Moreover, there is a significant degree of ambivalence towards governments and medical organisations. Conclusions: Employees within the pharmaceutical industry claim a commitment to collaboration and QUM. While these claims cannot be taken entirely at face value, there is potential for meaningful collaboration with industry. Keywords Pharmaceutical industry Pharmaceutical ethics Quality of healthcare Health policy Pharmacology