Stricter Drug Marketing Rules for Singapore

In January 2007, the revised International Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices developed by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Association (IFPMA) became effective. Though the Singapore Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (SAPI) is part of the IFPMA, it has only recently stated that it will adopt this revised international code.

These revisions are intended to clarify the ethical promotion of prescription medicines. The code has 10 articles in total, from establishing the content of promotional materials to providing guidelines on interactions with healthcare professionals.

Though in the past companies have treated healthcare professionals to various amenities, such activities will not be allowed under the new rules. Cash, gifts for personal benefit, stand-alone entertainment or other social activities must not be offered to healthcare professionals. In addition, drug companies cannot provide financial benefits or benefits-in-kind such as grants, scholarships, etc. to healthcare professionals in exchange for promoting, prescribing, purchasing, supplying, or administering their products.

The code also emphasizes increased transparency, with accurate, non-misleading promotional items and consistency in product information. Promotion should not be disguised. For example, clinical assessments, post-marketing surveillance and experience programs, and post-authorization studies cannot be disguised promotion. All printed promotional material must include the name of the product, active ingredients, name and address of the pharmaceutical company or responsible marketing agent, date of production of the advertisement, and abbreviated prescribing information. This abbreviated prescribing information should include an approved indication(s) for use with the dosage and method of use, and a short statement on the contraindications precautions and side effects.

There are also specific guidelines for electronic materials and promotional information at events.