How can pharmaceutical industry sponsored medical education be truly ethical?

From time to time, pharmaceutical sponsored medical education has been negatively portrayed and ethical standards have been breached in one-off well publicised cases. As such, questions get raised time and time again, about whether pharma sponsored medical education can ever be truly ethical. Can it hold itself to the moral standards which are required in medicine? Unsurprisingly, we absolutely believe that it can. We have proven that building trust through a collaborative, listening focused approach can provide high quality, balanced and ethical education that leads to informed decision making and improved patient outcomes.

We know that the people we work with in healthcare all want the best outcomes for patients, and so that’s where we start. To achieve the best outcomes possible, patients must have access to the best treatment for them. However, healthcare professionals do not want education focused solely on one topic or treatment without broader context.

By uncovering Deeper Insights about a disease area that illuminate the key education needs of healthcare professionals, we can develop an evolving narrative that disseminates clinical trial data, case studies, real world-evidence and peer-to-peer learning. This approach has shown that we can ethically educate and build confidence in new treatment options in a way that allows healthcare professionals to decide for themselves where a new treatment fits in the pathway. While much of pharmaceutical industry medical education focuses on overt and rapid behaviour change in healthcare professionals, we believe that by presenting education in a way that allows the audience to make independent decisions based on evidence, behaviour change becomes an outcome rather than the sole intention.

Recently, we worked with clinicians to understand that while price was publicly stated as a reason for not using a new treatment, lack of confidence around real world evidence was in fact the key driver. By focusing on real-world evidence and experience, as well as broader key issues in the community, we built a significant amount of trust and confidence that ensured informed decision making and appropriate prescribing of an innovative new treatment.

Education is evolving and changing as rapidly as medicine. As we learn more about how and why people learn, we are constantly striving to push medical education forward to become more and more effective. Education runs through the heart of Aurora, if you are interested in what is new in education or wish to discuss any specific challenges you may have, please get in touch with me (0207 148 4174).

Medical education is one of three strands of our Deeper Insights service offering, which also includes patient involvement and data storytelling.


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