Every medical representative and sales people know that Doctors are one of the most lucrative groups to conduct business with. While some may strongly deny this statement, but it’s an open secret in the medical world. But that might change – or at least be regulated soon.

Just like any other Profession, members of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), a self-governing regulatory body of all medical doctors in the country recently released their “controversial” Code Of Ethics. Controversial in the sense that – to many Doctors, it will disallow them from engaging in various activities, most especially “marketing” and ‘business’ activities of different health and medical products and companies.

I was driving home late Sunday morning listening to a radio program on DZMM, an ABS-CBN AM radio station. The host was Dr. Gary Sy – the most “un-ethical Doctor” in the Philippines. That was what he claimed he is anyway. He was discussing the newly released Doctor Code of Ethics of 2008, and it aroused my interest on some sections of the said Code of Ethics.

One notable section is on Media appearances, including hosting programs on TV and Radio, or writing a column on print media.

“A physician should only make a general opinion and shall refrain from making a specific diagnosis, therapy or projection to individual cases in his appearances in the broadcast media..”

Another section is perhaps the most controversial – where Doctors like Gary Sy have been engaged for quite some time. Dr. Gary Sy is popular for his “natural” medical product endorsements, ranging from Virgin Coconut Oil, other ‘natural’ health supplements such as Ginseng, ginko biloba, ampalaya among others most often endorsing a particular Brand or Manufacturer.

“A physician shall not commercially endorse any medical or health product.”

The PMA is also mandating its member-doctors, which is included in the Code of Ethics as well, to report all corrupt, unlicensed medical practitioners and members who violate their Code Of Ethics.

The discussions on this may still continue for a longer time. There are lots of things the Medical Profession regulatory body should do to help protect the welfare of patients, which is the Ultimate purpose of every medical practitioner. We also yet to see what happened to the Cheaper Medicines Act, the Medical Malpractice Act among other legislative initiative that have been put on hold or delayed either by strong lobbyists in the Senate or due to the shift of the Philippine Senate from a house to legislate laws, to a house of money, insertions and investigations with no results.

Just a total waste of time, energy and money. Anyways, the following are some interesting sections of the Code Of Ethics of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA). You can also download a PDF copy here.

“The primary objective of the practice of medicine is service to mankind irrespective of race, age, disease, disability, gender, sexual orientation, social standing, creed or political affiliation. In medical practice, reward or financial gain should be a subordinate consideration.”

“Physicians should be upright, diligent, sober, modest and well versed in both the science and the art of the profession.”

“The promotion and advancement of the health of the patients should be prioritized over the benefits of the physicians and the health products industries.”

“Professional fees should be commensurate to the services rendered with due consideration to the patient’s financial status, nature of the case, time consumed and the professional standing and skill of the physician in the community.”

“A physician shall waive his professional fees to a colleague, his or her spouse, children and parents who are financially dependent on him.”

“A physician shall not receive any commission for referring patients to a colleague, third person or institution. However, nominal gifts during occasions may be received by a physician.”

“The physician shall not derive any form of material gain from product samples.”

“Only gifts of reasonable value that primarily entail benefit to patient care or related to physicians’ work may be accepted by a physician from a health product company.”