Tag Archives: ethics

An Update on the Latest Amendments to the Italian Pharma Industry Association’s Code of Ethics

Amendments to the Italian pharmaceutical industry association’s (Farmindustria) Code of Ethics have been introduced on January 19, 2022 https://www.farmindustria.it/app/uploads/2018/06/2022-GENNAIO-19.pdf.

One of the most important changes concerns section 4.7, which defines Patient Support Programs (PSP) as initiatives implemented by pharmaceutical companies aimed at making available additional services for the direct benefit of patients. Such services are not intended to replace the services of hospitals and other healthcare organizations. For more information on PSP, check out our previous blog post https://lawhealthtech.com/2022/02/07/new-guidelines-on-patient-support-programs-adopted-by-italian-pharma-industry-association/ .

Besides, other important amendments have been introduced:

  • Training and Information to Non-Prescribers: new section 3.25 (i) allows pharmaceutical companies to carry out training and information activities aimed at healthcare professionals who are not authorized to prescribe medicines, but are involved in the treatment management, provided that such activities do not have any promotional purpose and that the information provided is linked to their roles in patients’ treatment management; and (ii) extends to such professionals the possibility to attend events, courses and congresses, as long as such events do not concern topics relating to medicines;
  • Information to the Public: new section 3.26 (i) allows pharmaceutical companies to provide unsolicited information to the public, through personnel not belonging to commercial or marketing areas, relating to products and diseases pertaining to the relevant therapeutical area, provided that such information does not have a commercial nature and matches the information set forth in the package leaflet or institutional information channels; and (ii) confirms that a full literal reproduction of the package leaflet information may be published on the companies’ websites available to the public;
  • Interactions Other than Medicines Promotion: new section 3.28 (i) allows pharmaceutical companies to provide information on medicines to various stakeholders such as institutions, professionals, organizations, etc., without this falling within the scope of medicines promotion; and (ii) specifically regulates the possibility to carry out, during the medicine’s life cycle, institutional and market access activities or other non-promotional interactions towards institutions and health care professionals, as well as account management activities aimed at ensuring the application of commercial policies through interactions with public or private counterparties involved in the medicines procurement processes and activities aimed at the mutual sharing of non-promotional information and data.

The above new provisions of the industry Code of Ethics undoubtedly aim at regulating several aspects of the day-to-day promotional and educational activities of pharmaceutical companies that have been so far ignored by the industry association regulations. However, the new previsions are quite vague in their scope and it remains to be seen whether they will have any meaningful impact on the market practices in the pharmaceutical sector.

Paola Sangiovanni to Speak on Artificial Intelligence

Our firm will be attending the EMEA Regional Meeting of Ally Law in Malta next week and on Friday November 15th I will be speaking at a panel discussion titled “Keeping an Eye on AI: Ethical and Regulatory Considerations.” 

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic, also in the med-tech field, and poses exciting legal, ethical and regulatory questions. I am sure this will be an interesting opportunity to discuss them with legal and technical experts. 

 

Artificial intelligence and robotics: a report reflects on legal issues

With its report issued on May 31, 2016 by the European Parliament (“Report”), the European Union has stepped into the debate on how to deal with artificial intelligence and robotics (“AI&R”). The ultimate goal of the European Parliament is to set forth a common legal framework that may avoid discrepancies arising from different national legislations, which would otherwise create obstacles to an effective development of robotics.

The Report introduces ethical principles concerning the development of AI&R for civil use and proposes a Charter on Robotics, composed by a Code of Ethical Conduct for Robotics Engineers, a Code for Research Ethics Committees and Licenses for Designers and Users.

Furthermore, the Report suggests the creation of a European Agency for AI&R, having an adequate budget, which would be able to generate the necessary technical, ethical and regulatory expertise. Such agency would monitor research and development activities in order to be able to recommend regulatory standards and address customer protection issues in these fields.

The Report, which recommends to the Commission to prepare a proposal of directive on civil law rules on robotics, illustrates many of the issues that society could face in a few decades regarding the relationship between humans and humanoids. In fact, a wide range of robots already can, and could even more in the future, affect people’s life in their roles as care robots, medical robots, human repair and enhancement robots, doctor training robots, and so on.

A further development that may be concerning for lawyers is connected to the announcement, a few days ago, by the University College London that a computer has been able to predict, through a machine-learning algorithm, the decisions by the European Court of Human Rights with a 79% accuracy. Will this result in a more automatic and predictable application of the law?

In order to secure the highest degree of professional competence possible, as well as to protect patients’ health when AI&R is used in the health field, the Report recommends to strengthen legal and regulatory measures such as data protection and data ownership, standardization, safety and security.

One concern arising from the Report is civil liability arising from the use of robots. Should the owner be liable for damages caused by a smart robot? In fact, in the future, more and more robots will be able to make “smart” autonomous decisions and interact with third parties independently, as well as cause damages by their own. Should such damages be the responsibility of the person who designed, trained or operated the robot?

Some argue in favor of a strict liability rule, “thus requiring only proof that damage has occurred and the establishment of a causal link between the harmful behavior of the robot and the damage suffered by the injured party”.

The Report goes even further by asking the Commission to create a compulsory insurance scheme for owners and producers to cover damage potentially caused by robots and a compensation fund guaranteeing compensation for damages, but also allowing investments and donations in favor of robots.

Exciting times lay ahead of us. It remains to be seen if the current legal principles will be sufficient or if new ones will actually be necessary.