Pharmaceutical companies to report what they pay doctors

HUGE pharmaceutical companies selling medicines in Australia will start to report what they pay doctors for consultancies and sponsorships from next week.

A new Code of Conduct for the pharmaceutical industry will take effect from January 11, including the reporting of the payments - which have remained undisclosed in the past.

The change will mean companies including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer Australia will report aggregate payments to doctors and other healthcare professionals for their advice.

It comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission accepted the new code of conduct earlier this month.

But while the ACCC was pushing for full disclosure of the payments, industry body Medicines Australia said only "aggregate payments" would be reported - not every individual payment.

Sponsorships of consumer organisations, and for doctors to speak at medical conferences and educational events will also be included.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said every member of the industry body had signed on to improve transparency.

"Engagement with doctors is important and legitimate because patients want to be sure that their doctors know how to use the medicines they're being prescribed.

"Now the nature of that engagement will be much more transparent."

The ACCC approved the code of conduct for two years, on condition that it be reviewed and revised, including stronger transparent reporting of payments, before the end of 2014.