Transparency Alert: Ten Canadian drug companies to begin voluntary disclosures in 2017

By Darren Jones

Ten companies have agreed that starting in 2017 they will make certain financial data publicly available.  This voluntary Canadian transparency program will divulge aggregate statistics on fees paid for consulting, speaking and other services provided by health professionals; grants dispensed to some healthcare organizations; and money given to physicians to travel to international functions. The hope is that the program will make financial ties between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals more transparent in an effort to help quell charges or perception of conflicts of interest.

The participating companies include many of the leaders of Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC), the industry manufacturer’s association: GlaxoSmithKline, Abbvie, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Purdue and Roche.  The objective of the effort is consistent with the self-governing initiative IMC has been pursing with its recent publication of the 2016 Code of Ethical Practices.

Unlike the American and French Sunshine Acts requiring companies to disclose payments to individual doctors and hospitals, the Canadian effort is voluntary and will not include as broad a scope of payments to health organizations.  Innovative Medicines Canada has endorsed the program, though some critics have called the move a small step in the right direction. Others are calling on the Canadian government to enact its own Sunshine Act legislation.

As Polaris leaders David Davidovic and Ben Carmel recently reported in an article, 5 Healthcare and Compliance Transparency Myths Dispelled, more and more countries are passing Sunshine-style transparency reporting programs.  This group of companies in Canada has taken the initiative to disclose payments without any legal requirement, likely in an attempt to pre-empt a legislative requirement to do so.  The global trend towards more openness and transparency is absolutely clear.

As a result, to prepare for potential non-voluntary industry or government requirements, Polaris recommends life sciences companies in Canada take proactive action.  Polaris provides numerous compliance solutions to help clients prepare and implement transparency solutions.  Life sciences companies should begin capturing the amounts associated with agreements in their data for reporting immediately.

For more information, please contact:

Darren Jones, Partner

Ben Carmel, Director

Joyce Crawford, Consultant