In a move aimed at controlling the “marketing propaganda” of pharmaceutical products inside health facilities and the resulting “opportunistic” suspicions, health sources said the Ministry of Health is “studying a regulatory mechanism for the visits of representatives of pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies to health facilities, after monitoring the negative effects,” which the ministry termed ‘irregular’ and an obstructs the workflow during official working hours,” noting that the new mechanism takes into account the rights of patients on the one hand, and the work of doctors in a comfortable atmosphere on the other hand.

A local Arabic daily said one of the most important items in the proposed mechanism is preventing delegates’ visits during official working hours, regulating the number of visits by representatives of each company, and obtaining a prior appointment from the heads or managers of health facilities, to regulate visits during working hours, in a manner that does not confuse or disrupt patients’ appointments.”

And among the items, “setting a day on which the head of the department will meet in the presence of some doctors, whose time permits after the end of working hours, with company representatives, after obtaining prior approvals from the health facilities management and coordinating with the heads of departments in this regard.”

The sources stressed that “the regulatory mechanism aims primarily to eliminate the negatives that these visits may cause,” stressing that “its application has become necessary in light of the increasing number of visits by company representatives, to prevent any impact on doctors’ decisions when prescribing treatments, and to address any suspicions of utilitarianism that may arise.”

This comes as Western reports indicate the negative impact of some pharmaceutical companies and the “gifts” they provide to some doctors (such as in-kind gifts, facilities, or recreational trips in the form of scientific conferences or others), including a study prepared by researchers at the University Hospital in Rennes, France, which concluded that physicians who receive gifts from drug makers tend to prescribe “more expensive and lower quality” drugs than their colleagues prescribe them.

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