The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted interim authorisation to Medicines Australia for its Code of Conduct, a voluntary industry code of conduct for the prescription medicines industry in Australia. Interim authorisation is granted for the Code in terms of edition 17.
Medicines Australia requested an extension of time to provide its response to the ACCC’s draft determination and that the pre-decision conference be delayed until 28 November 2014. As a result, the ACCC will not be able to make a final determination in relation to the substantive application for authorisation of edition 18 of the code before the existing authorisation of edition 17 of the Code expires on 11 January 2015.
“The ACCC considers that interim authorisation will maintain the status quo and avoid the uncertainty that may arise if the existing authorisation is allowed to lapse,” ACCC Commissioner Dr Jill Walker said.
“Interim authorisation will also enable the ACCC to finalise its decision regarding granting authorisation to edition 18 of the Code, including any conditions of authorisation.”
On 2 July 2014, Medicines Australia lodged an application for authorisation of edition 18 of the Code. This edition introduced a regime which requires reporting of individual transfers of value made to healthcare professionals, except where the healthcare professional has not consented to the disclosure.
On 17 October 2014, the ACCC released a draft determination proposing to grant conditional authorisation to edition 18 of the Code for five years. The condition would ensure that all relevant transfers of value by pharmaceutical member companies to individual healthcare professionals are reported. The ACCC is also considering requiring ongoing hospitality reporting.
Interim authorisation commences on 10 January 2015 and remains in place until it is revoked or the date the ACCC’s final determination comes into effect. The ACCC anticipates releasing a final determination in relation to the application for authorisation of edition 18 of the Code in the first quarter of 2015.
The granting of interim authorisation in no way binds the ACCC in its consideration of the substantive application for authorisation.
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.
Further information, including a copy of the interim authorisation, is available from the Authorisations Register.