Ethical pharmaceutical promotion and communications worldwide: codes and regulations

Philos Ethics Humanit Med. 2014 Mar 29;9:7. doi: 10.1186/1747-5341-9-7.


The international pharmaceutical industry has made significant efforts towards ensuring compliant and ethical communication and interaction with physicians and patients. This article presents the current status of the worldwide governance of communication practices by pharmaceutical companies, concentrating on prescription-only medicines. It analyzes legislative, regulatory, and code-based compliance control mechanisms and highlights significant developments, including the 2006 and 2012 revisions of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) Code of Practice.Developments in international controls, largely built upon long-established rules relating to the quality of advertising material, have contributed to clarifying the scope of acceptable company interactions with healthcare professionals. This article aims to provide policy makers, particularly in developing countries, with an overview of the evolution of mechanisms governing the communication practices, such as the distribution of promotional or scientific material and interactions with healthcare stakeholders, relating to prescription-only medicines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Drug Industry / ethics*
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Marketing / ethics*
  • Marketing / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Social Control, Informal


  • Prescription Drugs