Paz-Pines demands regulation of doctor-drug company relationships

Move comes in wake of bribery arrest of senior TA oncologist.

paz pines 88 (photo credit:)
paz pines 88
(photo credit: )
Minister-without-Portfolio Ophir Paz-Pines, who has been assigned responsibility for science and technology in the new government - as well as culture and sport - has called on Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri to set up a special committee to draft rules governing the relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. Paz-Pines, who was speaking to a conference organized by the Movement for Quality Government on the "Struggle for Ethics," was referring to the arrest Tuesday of Dr. Arye Figer, a senior oncologist at Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center, on suspicion of taking bribes in exchange for referring cancer patients to clinical trials run by pharmaceutical companies with which he allegedly had connections. Paz-Pines said it was "forbidden for there to be a direct connection between a physician and a drug company. This must be illegal. The public must know how decisions are made, and there is nothing like transparency." Paz-Pines said that when he was a backbencher, he had asked the Health Ministry to advocate bills on the issue, but "it was like talking to a wall. I am disturbed by the system of impossible pressures placed by vested interests with billions of shekels at stake on members of the committee that recommends expansion of the basket of health services. "As minister of science, I will do my best so that we don't have embarrassing situations, screaming headlines and human tragedies such as what we have seen in the Figer affair." The Israel Medical Association has a constitution that sets restrictions on the doctor-drug company relationship, but it is not legally binding.