Pharmacists and Industry: Guidelines for Ethical Interactions

American College of Clinical Pharmacy


Pharmacotherapy. 2008;28(3):410-420. 

In This Article


This position paper is an update to the original paper developed by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), Pharmacists and the Pharmaceutical Industry—Guidelines for Ethical Interactions, published in 1993.[1] The title has been changed to reflect the increased scope of its content. In addition to interactions with the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacists routinely interact professionally with a variety of vendors, including drug wholesalers, device manufacturers, computer hardware and software manufacturers, and other technology entities. Businesses and manufacturers not generally perceived by pharmacists as being part of the industrial sector, such as for-profit medical education and communication companies, also are included. Because ethical considerations are not limited to one industry sector, the following guidelines should be applicable to any situation.

In addition to expanding the guidelines to all industry sectors, this update recognizes new and revised federal and organizational guidelines for industry that address real and perceived ethical conflicts with health care professionals. These guidelines include the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals published in 2002,[2] the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's (OIG) Compliance Program Guidance for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers published in 2003,[3] the Standards for Commercial Support from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to Ensure the Independence of CME Activities published in 2004,[4] and the Accreditation Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) update to their Criteria for Quality and Interpretive Guidelines related to commercial support of continuing education activities approved at the end of 2006.[5]

The ACCP recognizes that certain relationships between industry and pharmacists are ethically appropriate, often beneficial, and unavoidable. The challenge for pharmacists is to ensure those relationships remain within acceptable boundaries and to avoid inappropriate interactions that have the potential to impact negatively on each of us, as well as our profession and, most important, our patients. As our roles as pharmacists evolve, we will continue to be challenged by ethical dilemmas. Pharmacists should familiarize themselves with the new guidelines, as well as the position statements outlined in this document, to ensure that they have a sound decision-making framework when confronted with an ethical dilemma.


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