AAM Addresses Relationships with Patient Groups in New Code of Ethics

April 10, 2018
Samantha DiGrande

In terms of the interactions with patient organizations, the code specifies that companies should not only respect the autonomy of patient organizations and their independence, but also ensure that support for patient advocacy organizations in the form of grants or charitable contributions not be conditional on promoting a specific medicine.

This week, the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM) released a new code of business ethics for its member companies. The new code will take effect on September 1, 2018.

“The AAM Code of Business Ethics stands out from other pharmaceutical industry codes because of AAM’s clear recognition of the ethical value of access to medicines for patients. Our new code also priorities market competition as a driving force,” said AAM president and CEO Chip Davis in a statement.

The code incorporates the following goals and criteria for its members:

  • Developing, manufacturing, researching, and distributing medicines to benefit patients
  • The ethical value of access to affordable medicines and the market competition that makes access possible
  • Following high ethical standards in addition to applicable laws and regulations
  • Ensuring that internal procedures encourage responsible and ethical behavior
  • Complying with relevant standards regarding development
  • Respecting the independence of patient organizations
  • Respecting patient privacy
  • Maintaining ethical relationships with healthcare professionals
  • Providing objective, accurate, and balanced information about their medicines

In terms of the interactions with patient organizations, the code goes on to specify that companies should not only respect the autonomy of patient organizations, but also ensure that support for patient advocacy organizations in the form of grants or charitable contributions not be conditional on promoting a specific medicine.

The announcement of AAM’s new code comes on the heels of the recent launch of the new database, “Pre$cription for Power,” developed by Kaiser Health News (KHN). The database evaluated the 20 pharmaceutical companies, and logged 12,000 donations from the companies to patient advocacy groups in 2015. The data show that the pharmaceutical companies contributed at least $116 million to patient groups in 2015 alone. These data have caused some concern among stakeholders, who feel that the financial ties are troubling if they have caused a patient group to act in a way that does not represent the interest of its members.

AAM’s new code of business ethics addresses some of these concerns in regulations for its own members.

“We must never take the ethics of healthcare access for granted. Our companies believe in our ethical mission, and AAM’s Board of Directors has approved this code. AAM looks forward to working with all stakeholders to expand access to generic and biosimilar medicines—the proven, reliable way to drive down the cost of medicine, which helps patients, strengthens our economy, and benefits our society,” says the organization.

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