primus consulting group – specialized on individual healthcare services
Prof. Dr. Hendrik Schneider, Chair of Criminal Law at the University of Leipzig has published a noteworthy article commenting on the HCP compensation study in Germany. Below is a summary:
“Fair market value for the compensation of HCPs – the importance of the HCP compensation study conducted through the member companies of the AKG - a registered society of German pharmaceutical industries"
§17 para. 3 of the AKG Healthcare Compliance Code of Conduct states that contractual collaboration with physicians is subject to the appropriateness of compensation. So far, the code refers to the equivalence principle, which is considered to be one of the fundamental pillars of corruption prevention. On behalf of AKG, the primus consulting group has evaluated compensation practices of the pharmaceutical industry. The study was conducted among AKG member companies. The data of the 38 participating companies from 2017 provide valuable insights regarding adherence to the equivalence principle and the fair market value. The study’s results take into account the therapeutic specialization of the HCP, her/his professional status (e. g. from the local specialist to national and international KOL status), as well as the type of collaboration for which s/he is being compensated.
The services being compensated are differentiated between Chairman, Speaker, and Consultant.It follows that the compensation is primarily determined by "personal qualifications"(Geiger, A&R 2013, 99 et seq., 103). The daily or hourly rate of a HCP’s compensation increases with her/his higher qualification/status. The GOÄ, which is often recommended as a guide, plays a rather minor role in practice. The median compensation for consultants is higher than for speakers. The companies proceed differently when it comes to travel times. Participating companies take compliance issues seriously when it comes to compensation. In this respect, the study confirms the author's findings in a previous study (Schneider/Grau/Kißling CCZ 2013, 48). Companies generally have documented payment grids that provide transparency with respect to differentiating between payments based on objective criteria. The study therefore also defines the"must haves" for pharmaceutical companies to collaborate with HCPs and provides a guideline for the definition of internal compensation schemes.
The primus group's results report should therefore be on the desk of every Compliance officer working in the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, in order to broaden the base for this valuable analysis, it would be desirable if other associations/ organizations of the German Healthcare Market (e. g. BVMed, BAH, VfA) would also join the AKG initiative. Replication studies should be conducted at intervals of 2 to 3 years. This ensures that the data is up-to-date and shows the developments in compensation practices. In the context of future studies, it is also advisable to extend the surveys to other services, such as NIS compensation.
Indeed, when interpreting the data it should be noted that money is not everything. In order to avoid the accusation of corruption, it is important to determine whether the compensated service provides a clear, explainable value to the company. Any compensation is inappropriate, when the service provided is in a "fig leaf" form (like some congress reports from HCPs), which is merely intended to camouflage an unfair agreement (Schneider medstra 2016,195 and Badle medstra 2017, 1)".
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