The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), a Washington, D.C.-based organization representing medical device companies, has issued the final version of its code of ethics for interactions with healthcare professionals. The voluntary code will become effective January 1, 2004. The guidelines come on the heels of the Office of Inspector General's compliance program guidance for pharmaceutical manufacturers, released in April, which is designed to help device and drug firms comply with federal anti-kickback laws.

The AdvaMed code provides guidelines for areas that have come under government scrutiny: product training and education for healthcare professionals, sales and promotional meetings, consultant arrangements, and gifts. It also addresses device companies’ funding of medical association meetings.

There are several differences between the final code and the draft version, issued this summer. In the section covering product training and education, the draft said that device companies may provide attendees with modest meals and hospitality in connection with such programs, and that it might be appropriate for guests to participate in group hospitality provided that costs were nominal. The final version specifies that hospitality and meals may be provided only for healthcare professionals—the part about guests has been deleted. Similarly, in the section about supporting third-party educational conferences, the revised code says that device firms may provide meals and receptions for all healthcare professional attendees; while the draft said that meals and hospitality could be provided for any program attendees.

These changes bring the AdvaMed code more in line with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America's Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals, released last summer. For more information, watch for the December issue of Medical Meetings. For a copy of the AdvaMed code, visit www.advamed.org.