Takeda’s Mwana Lugogo and Pfizer’s Rady Johnson, the current and former chairs of the IFPMA Ethics & Business Integrity Committee and Chief Ethics & Compliance Officers Roundtable respectively, highlight the IFPMA’s new ‘Ethoscope’ initiative, which aims to promote ethics and business integrity throughout the industry to sustain and develop trust.
As an industry dedicated to advancing healthcare and improving patient outcomes, it is crucial that the pharmaceutical industry upholds high standards of ethics and business integrity. We believe that ethical decision-making is not only essential to maintaining the trust of patients, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders, but it also helps ensure responsible innovation as our industry reaches those in need.
That’s why the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), through its 39 member companies and 53 member associations spanning the globe, has launched the “Ethoscope” – an open-source, continuously evolving resource that contains diverse guidance designed to keep pace with emerging developments in the ever-changing health ecosystem. Among the first sectors to develop such a resource, we are advancing our unwavering commitment to ethical decision-making and patient-focused innovation while setting an example for other industries to follow.
At the core of the Ethoscope is our industry’s Ethos and longstanding Code of Practice, which was first established in 1981 and has since undergone several revisions to reflect evolving societal expectations. In addition to the Code, the Ethoscope includes diverse resources and materials to support ethical decision-making and promote business integrity.
One such resource is our Notes for Guidance. Developed on a consensus basis, these provide recommendations to help the industry in an agile way keep pace with emerging developments in the health ecosystem – from scientific innovations and new technologies to evolving business models – from an ethical standpoint. For example, one of the latest Notes for Guidance centers on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential impact on patient care and decision-making. This includes a guiding list of questions and use cases for industry teams to reflect on in their initial assessment of AI systems. AI is a powerful enabler of progress and innovation. From helping scientists screen new molecules faster to detecting symptoms of diseases earlier, new applications of AI are constantly being explored. The use of AI can also raise questions relating to ensuring ethical use of data and sufficient accountability and avoiding misuse, as well as mitigating systemic risks inherent to algorithmic bias and discrimination. By providing such guidance, IFPMA aims to help our industry stay ahead of the curve and ensure that ethical considerations are integrated into the development of technologies and new approaches to healthcare.
Another key component of the Ethoscope is the collection of research and data on the positive return of ethics. For too long, there has been a misconception that good ethics is costly or only necessary to mitigate risk. Our industry is on a mission to challenge this perception, showing the numerous benefits of adopting and implementing ethical practices. We recognize a strong need to evidence the why. Why should a company care about adhering to high standards of ethical conduct? Is there anything to gain? Through the Business Ethics for APEC SMEs Initiative, the world’s largest public-private partnership dedicated to reinforcing ethical business practices in our sector, IFPMA has supported research with APEC, demonstrating that companies prioritizing integrity enjoy better reputations and stronger stakeholder relationships and are better positioned for economic success. By enabling and making these findings available through the Ethoscope, we are encouraging partners within and beyond the life sciences industry to reinforce the importance of investing in ethics.
Finally, the Ethoscope provides insight into where and how our industry engages in partnerships and collective action initiatives to foster ethics across the global healthcare ecosystem to serve one outcome: better patient health. Consensus frameworks for ethical collaboration are at the forefront of this work at the international and national level, bringing together hundreds of pharmaceutical and other industry associations, healthcare professional and hospital groups, patients’ organizations, health regulators, and other stakeholders. We are at only at the beginning of witnessing the role of collective action in driving multi-stakeholder solutions to ethical risks and opportunities in healthcare and beyond.
Our industry is committed to promoting ethics and business integrity in everything we do. This commitment reflects our values of care, fairness, respect and honesty, and is also critical to sustaining and building our industry’s most precious asset: trust. Through the IFPMA Ethoscope, the pharmaceutical industry has pioneered a new path in realizing this commitment together, preparing us to boldly enter the next era in healthcare.