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MSD’s monitoring causes stir for alleged violation of physicians’ privaciesTop 10 pharmaceutical stories in 2019 ⑩
  • By Kim Yun-mi
  • Published 2019.12.31 12:40
  • Updated 2019.12.31 12:40
  • comments 0

This year was a year where the word "safety" was particularly highlighted in the healthcare industry. The N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a potentially carcinogenic substance, which caused a ruckus after being detected in valsartan-based antihypertensive treatment last year, was further extended to ranitidine and nizatidine. Earlier this month, the medical community was startled when the carcinogenic substance was found in some metformin products, which is the most widely used diabetes treatment in Korea. Also, the importance of drug safety was further highlighted through Allergan's breast implant safety issue and Kolon Life Science's Invossa incident. Along with safety issues, Korea Biomedical Review looked back on major issues that have affected the medical industry this year. - Ed

For MSD Korea, 2019 was an embarrassing year.

The company’s self-assurance program (SAP) raised the suspicion of recording every conversation during the monitoring process, which reduce doctors’ trust in the drugmaker by violating their privacy.

The company introduced SAP last year to check the compliance of employees after implementing a system, which obligated employees to submit reports on expenditures caused by providing economic benefits, last year. Korea Biomedical Review reported on allegations that SAP recorded conversations among not only the employees but also doctors who attended the company’s product briefings.

After the report, physicians who operate private clinics expressed their displeasure with the company’s actions. The Korea Medical Clinic Association and Korea Medical Association said that the acts of MSD Korea are improper, undermining trust between medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies.

Afterward, MSD has come up with improvements. While maintaining the current system of SAP, it decided to reduce and objectify its monitoring items, educate sales and medical personnel, and work out guidelines.

Despite the company’s revision, MSD Korea’s union criticized the company saying that the new plan was just a cheap trick to maintain the status quo. The union is still demanding the company to improve its SAP further.

A majority of MSD Korea’s unionists also formed a new trade union earlier this month, after leaving the MSD branch of the Korea Democratic Pharmaceutical Union (KDPU).

About 280 members, or 80 percent of the KDPU's MSD Korea branch, have joined the new union, which secured the right to represent the employees and conduct collective bargaining.

As the new union also plans to push ahead with demanding SAP’s improvement, disputes over the system between the union and the company are expected to continue through the New Year.


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