Europe’s doctors and drugmakers have announced an agreement in which the two bodies will have closer links covering a number of areas, including product information, promotion of medicines and Industry-sponsored events.

The Standing Committee of European Doctors, which represents some 2 million physicians, and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations have issued a 21-point joint declaration, which the bodies say shows they are “aware of their responsibilities vis-à-vis patients and society [and] consider it essential to establish jointly accepted guidelines so that they can serve as a framework at both European and national level.”

The declaration notes that “cooperation between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry is important and necessary at all stages of the development and use of medicines to secure safety of patients and efficacy of therapy,” adding that “total transparency is required; therefore any relationship that entails – or might be perceived to entail – conflicts of interest must be publicly disclosed.”

The drugmakers’ association says its members must “provide honest and up-to-date information regarding their products,” and abstain from advertising medicines before they have been granted a marketing authorisation.

The statement also calls for an end to “unjustified hospitality,” and any gifts for doctors “should be inexpensive and must be relevant to the practice of medicine,” noting that the venue of any conference “should be appropriate for the scientific purpose of the meeting, and should not involve travelling beyond what is needed.”

The declaration has received a warm welcome from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, which says that the framework acknowledges that co-operation between doctors and drug companies “is important and necessary” and also acknowledges their joint responsibilities to govern the conduct of such activities.

The ABPI is currently revising its own code of practice concerning promotion of prescription medicines and the provision of information to the public.