by Dr. Sunni Patel, medeuronet clinical scientist
With the release of the MedTech Europe (EUCOMED) Code of Ethical Business Practice, the industry trade group is aiming to set a new ethical standard for the European Medtech industry to follow in its business practices.
The Code aims to make MedTech Europe’s goal of safe, innovative and reliable technology (and related services) available to more people a reality. The body recognises that innovation and creativity are essential to allow the progressive development and evolution of medical technologies and/or services. However, this is only possible through effective and appropriate instruction, education, training, service and technical support so that the image and perception of the medical technology industry that is projected to the public is of the highest standards at all times.
In a nutshell, the Code describes guidelines on the interactions between healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations. It primarily covers sponsor-related events, donations, consultant agreements, royalties, educational items and gifts, demo products and samples as well as sponsor-initiated research.
MedTech Europe is made up of an alliance of European medical technology industry associations and lobbies on behalf of these organizations at the EU level.
Interestingly, at the last Association of British Healthcare Industries Regulatory Conference in London, Professor Christopher Hodges of Oxford University noted that the emissions scandal in Volkswagen set a precedent of corporate governance and environmental responsibility and will have an effect also on the Medtech industry and how consumers and regulators perceive the industry. Ultimately people do not trust businesses as they previously did – and public opinion on free-market capitalism in Europe isn’t much better.
What this ultimately shows us as an industry is that businesses are expected to adapt to external influences, and short-termism can be adopted without the need to short cut the innovation route at the cost of jeopardising personal and business ethics.
Relationships, including KOL management, are the lifeline of all good companies, so the Code helps us to appreciate the way we work with stakeholders to provide innovate devices in the marketplace whilst trading on a good reputation. Although reputation may not necessarily be a visual entity on the financial balance sheet, it can translate into higher returns when looking towards globalisation and exit strategies.
So, business ethics really do matter. Not only can they influence our own companies and strategies and industry as a whole, they also affect the way we interact with consumers, and fundamentally how these consumers perceive Medtech capitalism, innovation and value-creation in the medical sphere.