[Tuesday, January 26, 2016, Beijing] “China Symposium for Pharmaceutical Industry Self-regulation and Career Management and Development of Medical Representatives” was held in Beijing today. Delegates to the symposium unanimously agreed that medical representatives play an important role in connecting medical personnel with pharmaceutical companies, ensuring medical treatment effect and benefiting patients. Hence, medical representatives should possess professional knowledge background and meet strict ethical requirements, which highlight the importance of creating a system of career management and development based on high standards. The symposium was chaired by Wang Guihua, Secretary General of China Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (CATCM) and was attended by leaders from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) and the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC).
In the new edition of the Chinese Occupation Encyclopedia released in 2015, “medical representative” is included as an entry defined as “professionals engaged in the transmission, communication and feedback of drug information on the half of drug manufacturers.” This inclusion is the outcome of survey and application made by the China Pharmaceutical Industry Association (CPIA), the R&D-based Pharmaceutical Association Committee of the China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment (RDPAC), the CATCM and the China Medicine Education Association (CMEA) under the support and guidance of the CFDA and the NHFPC; in addition, members of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Professor Li Dakui and Madam Feng Danlong raised proposals for the occupation of medical representatives through various channels. Executive chairman of the CPIA Pan Guangcheng noted that the inclusion of medical representative into the Chinese Occupation Encyclopedia marks an important milestone in the professionalization of medical representatives in China and is an outcome of the joint efforts by various stakeholders. For the development of medical representatives in China, however, this only marks the first step and it takes a long way for the management system of this occupation to be created and for the development planning of medical alternatives in China to be properly formulated.
According to Brendan Shaw, Assistant Director-General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), the environment for medical representatives improved over the past decade and supervision on them also enhanced. In addition, the pharmaceutical industry plays a dominant role in self-regulation. For instance, many drug manufacturers have created in-house compliance positions, expanded the scope of compliance and published internal standards and operation procedures as guidance for the communication activities of the employees. These industry and corporate standards are usually broader than requirements of laws and regulations. Meanwhile, the role of medical representatives is also transforming. Medical representatives are increasingly seen as an important source of suggestions and clinical support and their professionalism and continuing education are taken more and more seriously.
Internationally, many countries have established their own systems for the career management and training of medical representatives and some countries did so a long time ago and created complete systems although under different names. They include the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, Japan, Australia, Singapore and Canada. Among them, the UK, Canada and Australia initiated similar activities as early as in the 1960s and France and Germany promulgated dedicated legal requirements and clauses. In some other countries with different national conditions, in most circumstances the industry organizations are in charge of relevant standardization and management. In addition to the basic requirements of code of conduct for medical representatives, various states of the United States made requirements for the career management of medical representatives according to their different laws. Japan’s practice is the most sophisticated. In the late 1970s, the draft of revised Drug Administration Law of Japan included relevant provisions on the qualification system of medical representatives. The Pharmaceutical Education and Training Outline of Japan enacted in 1979 already stipulated that the induction training for medical representatives shall include basic training, product training and on-site learning with a total of 840 hours plus the follow-up continuing education of 100 hours/year. As remarked by Chikazawa Youhei, head of the MR Education and Accreditation Centre (MREAC) of Japan, “the qualification of a medical representative cannot be acquired only through education, training and learning but is largely subject to the operational concept of the employer, operational performance and the guiding attitude of the immediate supervisor of the medical representative. Thus, it is extremely important for various companies to further improve the environment of education, training and learning, strive to enhance the qualification of medical representatives through education and training, and ensure the trustworthiness among medical professionals and even the whole society at large.”
“No matter how useful a drug product is, if it cannot be properly communicated to medical stakeholders based on correct information activities, it cannot be called “useful drug product” in the real sense. In this sense, the work of medical representatives in compliance with laws, regulations and rules is one of the most important concerns for pharmaceutical companies. They must always remember the principle of “Everything for the patients” and follow the objective to carry out their work with a strong sense of ethics and in a highly transparent way.” As remarked by Tanaka Tokuo from Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (JPMA), “after years of efforts in the industry, the percentage of people in Japan who believe that pharmaceutical industry is trustworthy has increased from 66% in 1999 to 80.9% in 2014.
RDPAC Managing Director Joseph Cho noted that as an industry organization of global drug R&D companies, it is an important responsibility of the RDPAC to ensure that its member companies can accurately communicated the academic information of relevant drug products to physicians and timely collect and report the problems and adverse reactions in the use of drug products. Therefore, the RDPAC has been promoting the “code of conduct for medical representatives” among its member companies over the years with reference to international practice and carried out internal medical representative course (MRC) project to promote self-discipline and ensure that the medical representatives of its member companies have the basic pharmaceutical professional knowledge and work ethics. This year, the “code of conduct for medical representatives” as an internal mandatory mechanism for the RDPAC has been created to provide further assurance for its member companies and medical representatives to conduct themselves in accordance with the code of conduct.
Major progress has also been made in the self-regulation of pharmaceutical industry under the joint efforts of relevant chambers of commerce, associations and societies. Currently, a total of 17 industry chambers of commerce, associations and societies have signed the Proposal for the Implementation of Code of Ethics for Pharmaceutical Companies in China. In the future, the healthy development of the occupation of “medical representatives” will be an important component in the self-regulation of pharmaceutical companies and an important driver for the assurance of compliance.
This symposium is jointly organized by the CPIA, the RDPAC and the CATCM and attended by over 100 representatives from the government, associations industry and the media.
Occupational definition and job description of medical representatives
“Medical representative” has been listed into the Chinese Occupation Encyclopedia , 2015 Edition, thus finally acquiring an officially recognized identity, definition and job description and restoring the value and roles of “medical representatives.”
The included entry is as follows:
Occupation code: 2-06-07-07
Name of occupation: medical representative
Definition of occupation: professionals engaged in the transmission, communication and feedback of drug information on behalf of drug manufacturers.
Main job description:
1. Formulate pharmaceutical product promotion plan and method;
2. Communicate relevant information of pharmaceutical products to medical personnel;
3. Assist medical personnel in making proper use of the medicinal product of the company;
4. Collect and report the clinical use of the drug product and hospital demand information.