An industry Code of Practice for medical technology companies sets out the ethical framework within which they must work, in their relationships with healthcare professionals and also, where relevant, with the consumer.
Medical technology companies manufacture and supply a wide range of life-saving and life-enhancing medical products.
These products contribute to earlier diagnosis and less invasive intervention; they return patients to productive working lives and assist them to live independently in their own homes.
Appropriate selection of medical technology products to meet an individual patient’s needs and circumstances is a decision rightly made by the treating doctor.
Patients need to be reassured that the doctor is making the decision based on the qualities of the product and the suitability for the patient, and not on the basis of incentives or arrangements that the doctor may have with the manufacturer or supplier of the product.
The Code of Practice is not legislation. It is a guide to industry best practice and all companies in the industry are encouraged to comply with its provisions.
The Evolution of MTAA Code of Practice:
The first Code of Practice for the medical technology industry was introduced in 2001.
It formalised legal and ethical business practices for member companies of the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) and served to promote socially responsible conduct by the companies.
The Code was significantly rewritten in 2006 to address specific areas of company activity including relationships with healthcare professionals, support for third party conferences, advertising and competitions for consumers.
Since 2006 the Code has evolved to refine the issues which are covered and to introduce guidance notes to assist companies in understanding and implementing the Code. It is now in its 5th edition.
Unlike some other industry codes, the MTAA Code of Practice is not authorized by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission but was vetted by the ACCC at the time of the major rewrite for the 3rd edition.
The Meaning of MTAA Code of Practice for consumers:
The MTAA Code of Practice ensures that companies in the medical technology industry conduct their arrangements with healthcare professionals in a transparent manner so that decision-making on selection and use of products by doctors, or hospital purchasing departments, is based on the quality and suitability of the product, not on inducements (perceived or otherwise) paid to the doctor or other decision-maker.
The Code addresses the advertising of products (and some medical technologies are consumer items), claims and endorsements, comparative advertising and competitions for consumers.
A consumer who believes that the actions of a medical technology company breach the provisions of the Code of Practice may bring a complaint to the Code Complaints Committee.
It is preferable if the consumer has already raised his or her concerns first with the company as it may have been an isolated activity within the company that offends the company’s own code of behaviour.
However this is not mandatory for a consumer. The complaint is reviewed by an independent committee, chaired by a legally qualified person, which includes a consumer representative, a healthcare professional representative and an industry representative.
The Meaning of MTAA Code of Practice for Healthcare Professionals:
The Code of Practice covers many areas of interaction between doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and the medical technology industry.
Company-sponsored training and education on products. Many medical technology products require hands-on training to ensure that the product is well-understood and the correct technique is used.
Sponsorship of third party educational events and the restrictions on financial support for healthcare professionals to attend such events
Hospitality for healthcare professionals which is only permitted in very limited circumstances during training and education events
Consulting arrangements with healthcare professionals and payment of appropriate fees for the input provided in development of a product or participation on a company advisory board
Prohibition on the giving of gifts (with very minor exceptions)
Research and educational grants and charitable donations. Industry is a major contributor to medical research and without the contribution much research would not be funded. However the arrangements must be transparent and arms’ length
Provision of fellowships within the framework of accredited educational programs auspiced by a medical professional association.
The Meaning of MTAA Code of Practice for the Medical Technology Industry:
The changes to industry practice have been considerable as a result of the development of the Code of Practice.
Companies have responded by developing internal compliance codes, committing their staff to participate in training on the Code (online and face-to-face), and are now subject to monitoring of their activities by an independent Code Monitoring Committee.
Companies take their responsibilities under the Code very seriously. Compliance with the Code is binding on members of MTAA.
Non-member companies are not obligated, but are encouraged, to observe the MTAA Code of Practice, as an industry code. A breach of the Code, if found by the complaints process, can result in significant financial penalties.
In addition, the findings are made public on the MTAA website and in the MTAA Annual Report. The opprobrium that goes with such a finding can be damaging to a company’s reputation.
A company may bring a complaint about the activities of another company but must first have the issue of concern raised with the CEO of the company complained about.
In many cases the complaint is resolved and behaviour addressed without the need for a formal complaint to proceed.
For MTAA the Code of Practice provides an opportunity to educate companies, healthcare professionals and consumers about the benefits of working in an ethical, transparent, and socially responsible business environment.
The Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) is the national association representing companies in the medical technology industry. MTAA aims to ensure the benefits of modern, innovative and reliable medical technology are delivered effectively to provide better health outcomes to the Australian community.
MTAA represents manufacturers and suppliers of medical technology used in the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and management of disease and disability. The range of medical technology is diverse with products ranging from familiar items such as syringes and wound dressings, through to high-technology implanted devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators, hip and other orthopaedic implants. Products also include hospital and diagnostic imaging equipment such as ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging machines.
MTAA members distribute the majority of the non-pharmaceutical products used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and disability in Australia. Our member companies also play a vital role in providing healthcare professionals with essential education and training to ensure safe and effective use of medical technology.