Earlier this week, Covidien announced the launch of the Conscientious Collaboration, an online resource to promote the importance of ethical, clinically meaningful collaboration between healthcare professionals and the medical device and pharma industries. The resource is designed to help educate HCPs about Covidien's policies and practices for working with them, as well as the laws and codes of conduct that govern these relationships.
"Given the advancement of technology in healthcare today, the provider/industry relationship has never been more relevant or important, nor more scrutinized or challenged," Covidien's Global CMO Dr. Michael Tarnoff explained in a statement. "Conscientious Collaborationis Covidien's platform through which we can discuss our proactive approach to ensuring ethical interactions with our HCP partners. Our goal is to enhance innovation and patient safety by preserving the ability of healthcare professionals to partner with our Company in an appropriate manner."
Last year, Covidien became the first large medical device company to stop direct sponsorship of HCP travel to third-party conferences and congresses worldwide. It also moved funding for minimally-invasive surgical fellowships to neutral organizations, such as the Foundation for Surgical Fellowships. This move garnered the interest of a direct competitor, Tarnoff told FierceMedicalDevices in an interview.
Tarnoff also told FMD that he hopes the platform will cause some discussion in the device industry and lead it in a better direction when interacting with healthcare providers. Tarnoff, who maintains a clinical practice in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at Tufts Medical Center, added that he has long had an interest in physician interactions with industry. Over the years, he became more educated about these relationships and saw his colleagues didn't know how to engage with companies, while these firms didn't know how to engage with the doctors.
Tarnoff thinks a compliance initiative like Covidien's is important, as it shows the industry is proactive. The device industry took note of what happened in pharma, which acted in a more reactive manner to congressional calls for transparency. Eli Lilly led the way in its transparency efforts, saying it would be more open in how much cash it gives physicians and for what purpose. And in April 2010, Pfizer announced it was the first in the industry to report payments made for conducting Phase I-IV clinical trials in addition to disclosing payments for speaking and consulting.
While Covidien has long had a compliance program, the current effort has really gained traction over the last 12 months or so. Tarnoff said he isn't aware of another device company that has branded its program and put in such a public place like Covidien's. Although he isn't aware of industry response to the Conscientious Collaboration yet, given its newness, he hopes other company's will follow Covidien's lead.
The company's announcement comes with news that the leaders from nine medical technology associations have joined together to sign "Global Compliance Statement on Interactions Between Medical Technology Companies and Healthcare Professionals (HCPs)," which is designed to promote ethical interactions between companies and healthcare providers.
- read Covidien's statement
- and here's a link to the Conscientious Collaboration platform and video