AMA: Doctors Advertising Products And Services Hand Ethical Guidelines

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The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has revised the "Position Statement on Advertising and Public Interest" to include ethical principles for advertising and endorsement by doctors, which was released on June 10.

Prof. Brian Owler, AMA president, said, "Overarching principles as regards to advertising or endorsements is that a doctor's primary duty is to act in the best interests of patients. To do this, doctors must maintain their professional autonomy, clinical independence and integrity. Relationships between doctors and the medical, healthcare and other industries must not compromise or be perceived to compromise, the doctor's professional judgement, capacity to serve patients' interests, or the community's trust in the integrity of the medical profession."

The Position Statement revised in 2014 provided in the AMA Web site, includes the following key recommendations:

  • Advertising by doctors should be objective so that the patients can make informed choices. It should be truthful, accurate, fair, accountable and transparent. It should not exploit patient's vulnerability or lack of medical or health-related knowledge.
  • Use of gifts, discounts, or prizes in advertising by doctors is not appropriate.
  • When a doctor receives financial or other material benefit for promoting health care, or non-health care, related products or services, the nature of the doctor's relationship with the relevant organization should be open, accountable and transparent.
  • Within the doctor-patient relationship, a doctor should only recommend health care-related products and services based on the health care needs of the patient.
  • The main purpose of advertising medical services is to present information that is reasonably needed by patients, doctors and other health care professionals to make informed decisions about the appropriateness and availability of the offered medical services.
  • Doctors should be aware their professional status may be sought after by commercial entities to promote products and services directly to the public.
  • Doctors should not promote therapeutic goods or procedures directly to the public. These goods include prescription medicines, over-the- counter medicines, complementary medicines and medical devices.
  • Doctors should exercise caution in promoting any particular non-therapeutic good, health care-related services and products and services not directly related to health care.
  • Doctors may promote public health information as part of public campaign or health activities.
  • Doctors may raise public awareness of particular products and services through legitimate public discourse and advocacy.
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