Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) has announced changes to its Code of Ethical Practices for the first time since the last significant update in 2014. IMC has indicated that several major changes have been made which include the following noteworthy updates.

Meetings or events organized or sponsored by companies

The new Code introduces guidance on locations and provides clarity as to the appropriateness of venues used by IMC member companies to conduct business meetings and events. Specifically, locations should be chosen that will not be the main attraction of the event, and venues should be conducive to the scientific, educational and business purpose of the meeting and not known for their entertainment, sports, leisure or vacation facilities. New guidance is also provided on sponsoring conferences organized by third parties (e.g. medical societies), namely that IMC members should consider the location and venue of a third-party conference and assess its medical or scientific value by reviewing its detailed agenda before deciding whether to sponsor the conference.

Funding

The new Code more clearly defines the categories of funding that IMC member companies can provide to stakeholders (i.e. grants, donations, sponsorships, collaborations and partnerships), and also includes a new section (Section 13) devoted to collaborations and partnerships. Standards for each category of funding are also provided.

Patient Support Programs (PSPs) and Medical Practices Activities (MPAs)

The new Code prohibits IMC members and third-party service providers from providing payments or other benefits to a patient’s prescribing Healthcare Professional (HCP) (or to someone not at arm’s length from such HCP) for services provided in the context of PSPs/MPAs. A limited exception to this prohibition exists where a patient resides in a remote community and cannot otherwise reasonably obtain PSP/MPA services. The Code also prohibits the provision of payments or other benefits to an HCP for services that are reimbursable by the healthcare system. This prohibition is intended to prevent HCPs from being compensated twice for a single service, also known as double-dipping.

The new IMC Code will come into effect on January 1, 2020, with the exception of the changes related to PSPs and MPAs, which will come into effect on July 1, 2020, and the changes related to sponsoring third-party conferences and congresses, which will come into effect on January 1, 2021.