Karachi Bioethics Group Meetings 2010

Host of the Year 2010 - Aga Khan University (AKU)

AKU hosted KBG meetings for the year 2010, with Dr. Arshi Farooqi as the coordinator. A total of six meetings were held in February, April, June, August, October, and December. Attendance was good in the first few months, but in the latter part of the year, there was a considerable decline in the number of attendees.

Further dissemination of PPI guidelines was discussed, and suggestions included introducing them to PMA, the AKU ethics committee, and other available national and international forums. The PPI guidelines have been sent to the National Bioethics Committee and Federal DG Health. As the first stock of PPI printed guidelines was running short, members were of the opinion that a 2nd edition incorporating members’ feedback should be published.

Some members of KBG met with the Pharmaceutical Bureau (PB) Ethics Committee to discuss ethical concerns regarding physician-pharmaceutical industry interactions, impacting patient care. Representatives from well-known pharmaceuticals like Pfizer, Lily, Abbott, etc., were present at this meeting. Important information was exchanged, including the anticipation of introducing the Sunshine Act in the near future for multinational pharmaceuticals. Since this act would not be applicable to local companies, creating an uneven playing field, the PB was trying to liaise with the Pakistan Association of Pharmaceutical Physicians (PAPP) to discuss their concerns. The meeting concluded on a positive note that complaints on ethical matters could be sent to PB, which would provide feedback to KBG, and that the two groups would remain in contact and would consider drafting a uniform set of guidelines acceptable to both.

Dr. Arshi, who had offered to set up a KBG website through AKU, informed the members that in the near future, this website would be accessible globally. Some suggested introducing a blog on the website, but after discussing the pros and cons, the decision was taken against it.

Ongoing absenteeism of KBG members was brought to light, and the group decided that if a person was absent for three consecutive meetings (without giving a reason), a letter of inquiry would be sent regarding their intent to continue with the membership. The possibility of including new members was also raised.

A case was discussed regarding the ethical responsibility of a physician who offered to make a profit by selling vaccinations (to patients) at the retail price when bought at a discount from a pharmaceutical representative. The reasoning offered was that a patient would pay the retail price anyway, from a pharmacy. Concern was also verbalized about physicians’ errors that resulted in increasing the cost of care for the patient. The difference between error and negligence was pointed out, and the monetary responsibility of the hospital versus the physician was debated. Planning a workshop on this topic was recommended.

Dr. Aamir Warsi and Dr. Farah offered to host KBG at KMDC in the following year, 2011.

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