Life Sciences & Healthcare: countering bribery and corruption

Written on 1 Oct 2014

Welcome to the first of our updates on countering bribery and corruption in the Life Sciences and Healthcare sector, examining the regulatory regimes from across Europe.

Germany: Proposal to prohibit gifts to healthcare professionals

The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection in Germany has made a second attempt to implement an anti-bribery and corruption law in the area of Healthcare.

The ministerial proposal provides that a new provision is to be added to the German Criminal Code whereby it shall be deemed a criminal offence for practising healthcare professionals to accept gifts or other benefits from the pharmaceutical industry. For a long time, experts had criticised the strong influence of pharmaceutical companies on hospitals and other healthcare institutions.

The new provision is intended to ensure that a medical product is only prescribed for sound medical reasons. The background to this on-going effort to tighten the legal framework is a 2012 decision by the German Federal Court in which it ruled that doctors who accept benefits from pharmaceutical companies in consideration for the prescription of pharmaceutical products do not break German criminal law, but only commit an administrative offence.

Focussing on the same issue, the Disclosure Code of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) requires (from 2016 for the previous year) disclosure by the participating members of transfers of value (including for promotional purposes) to healthcare professionals.  This amendment has been adopted by the German Association of Researching Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA) in their code, which is mandatory for all members.