Through the enactment of Law No. 57091, the City of Buenos Aires has taken a step forward regarding patient protection and possible conflicts of interest that might affect therapeutic decisions taken by healthcare professionals.
An information and advertising regime for payments and benefits received by physicians in the City of Buenos Aires has been set up in order to provide clarity on a controversial issue regarding the impact that these benefits have on the prescribing of treatments and medications.
Within the framework of this regime, the Law sets out that manufacturers, importers and distributors of medical, biological and pharmaceutical products that provide and/or deliver to healthcare professionals goods, services, benefits or inducements with an economic value must inform the Department of Health of the City of Buenos Aires -the enforcement authority of the aforementioned law- on said issues in order for them to be properly publicized. The information to be submitted must include, at least, the identification of the contributing company; the personal information of the physician that is to receive the benefit plus his/her medical specialty; and the date, characteristics and amount of the granted payment or benefit. This information must be published by the Department of Health of the City of Buenos Aires in order to allow for public inspection.
In order to avoid doubts on its scope, the Law identifies 'goods with an economic value' as: cash payments, professional fees, amounts destined to finance professional training activities, as well as the delivery of goods, travel tickets, gifts, accommodation, representation allowances, meals or any other goods that could be deemed to have an economic value.
The system established is closely linked to the ethical guidelines stemming from section 366 of the Ethics Code for Health Professionals of the Argentine Medical Association (AMA in its Spanish acronym).2 This code deems gross ethical misconduct for any health professional to receive any benefits or rewards from companies or laboratories of medical products in exchange for prescribing certain medications or medical products. In accordance with this view, the Ethics Code of the Industrial Chamber of Argentine Pharmaceutical Laboratories (CILFA in its Spanish acronym)3 contains general rules that set forth the obligation for its members to promote and commercialize their products according to the provisions of the regulations in force...