Industry Committed to Responsible Interaction with Healthcare Professionals and RCPCH

The infant formula manufacturer members of BSNA are committed to responsible interaction with healthcare professionals (HCPs) as part of their support for the aims and principles of the WHO Code. In addition, BSNA members’ interactions with healthcare professionals must adhere to criteria clearly set out in the BSNA’s Infant Nutrition Industry Code (INI Code).  Meanwhile, healthcare professionals must follow guidance from their regulatory bodies, such as the General Medical Council, on how to manage conflicts of interest when receiving industry funding to attend educational events or carry out clinical research.

The sponsorship of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s (RCPCH) Egyptian Conference by member companies was in line with the WHO Code, the INI Code, GMC guidance and the RCPCH’s own requirements, all of which make it clear that, if robust safeguards are in place, industry can have a role in carrying out scientific research and sharing scientific information. In 2016 RCPCH’s own members also voted by a majority to support the College accepting funding from formula companies, subject to them meeting rigorous due diligence criteria.

BSNA members who participated in the RCPCH’s Egyptian conference were invited to do so by the RCPCH. Industry participation in the conference was appropriately limited to the sharing of information on specialist milks.

Declan O’ Brien, Director General of BSNA stated “BSNA members remain committed to working with healthcare professionals to carry out research and to disseminate the results of this research.  This is to the benefit of patients”.

He added “BSNA is concerned that the WHO Code is being misrepresented. Rather than prohibiting interaction between healthcare professionals and industry, the 1981 WHO Code and subsequent WHA resolutions seek to limit and define this interaction so as to manage potential conflicts of interest”.

Note to editors. The BSNA’s Infant Nutrition Industry (INI) Code was published on 1 November, 2018 with the independent Complaints Procedure going live on 1 February, 2019.