ADIA is the peak business organisation representing manufacturers and suppliers of dental products. Our vision is for an industry that empowers oral health professionals to advance the health and wellbeing of all Australians...................... — ADIA Strategic Plan


ADIA Code Preserves Healthcare Professional Independence

ADIA Code Preserves Healthcare Professional Independence

7th Dec 16

Summary —

To assist the dental industry understand its obligations under the ADIA Code of Practice, further guidance is offered on the framework associated with the provision of gifts by industry to healthcare professionals.

Key Issues For The Dental Industry —

At the request of the Australian Government, in 2014 the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) introduced a new version of the ADIA Code of Practice to ensure that the independence of decision-making by dental professionals may be seen to not be compromised by inappropriate promotion which is not in the best interests of patients or consumers.

The introduction of the ADIA Code of Practice introduced a framework for the promotion of products that, although unique to the dental industry, has been in place for many years across the other sectors of the medicines and medical device sector.  This met an Australian Government expectation of ADIA to align the obligations of its code with those of other industry associations in the medicines and medical device sector.  If you are interested in the background to please review the information below from the Australian Government.


Background To The Development Of The New Code —


Department of Health - Promotion of therapeutic products [EXT. LINK]

The purpose of the ADIA Code of Practice is to ensure that decisions made by dental professionals concerning patient healthcare needs are based on sound clinical evidence, not driven by inappropriate incentives or other influences offered by the dental industry.

As there has been some discussion within the industry concerning the intent of the ADIA Code of Practice, the following guidance is offered from the perspective of what the document's originators sought to achieve.  It also reflects the membership's common understanding of the what the ADIA Code of Practice seeks to achieve with respect to promotional activities associated with diagnosing and treating patients.


Gift Offered With Purchase
Of A One Type / Brand Of Product

[Generally Not Permitted]

Where a business is only offering one brand / type of product it would be inappropriate to offer a gift (of any kind).  This is because there could be a perception that the healthcare professional chose that particular brand / type of product over others, irrespective of the therapeutic benefit, as they would have received the gift. The inference is that a patient may have had a particular diagnostic / treatment using a particular product not because it was in their best interest, but because the healthcare professional received the gift. Although some in the dental industry don't accept this scenario, it's the firm position of healthcare and consumer groups.

Gift Offered With Purchase
Different Of Types / Brands Of Product

[Generally Permitted]

Where a business if offering multiple brands / types of products, it may be possible to offer a gift.  This is because the healthcare professional receives the gift irrespective of which diagnostic or treatment option was chosen, therefore patient health outcomes were not affected.

Additional Product Offered With 
Purchase Of Product Irrespective of Type / Brand 

[Generally Permitted]

When a business offers a ‘buy one get one free’ or similar promotions such as a gift of another product that is to diagnose or treat patients, there is an understanding that this type of promotion is accepted.  As the supporting statements in the ADIA Code of Practice state, a discount or rebate (which may include goods or services used in the dental practice for the purposes of treating a patient) applied directly to the health professionals’ business trading account is not considered to be a gift.  There is a higher-principle here that's set out in the Competition and Consumer Act (Cth) 2010 that an attempt to ban discounts and rebates may be anti-competitive in the views of regulators.

Gift Offered Independently 
Of Purchase Of Product

[Generally Permitted]

Members may provide reasonable gifts to healthcare professionals having regards for the principles set out in the ADIA Code of Practice; however, if there is any perception that this is being given to influence a healthcare professional's selection of treatment and diagnostic options, the gift can't be provided.

Provision of Gift Cards,
Vouchers Or Pre-Loaded Debit Cards
[Not Permitted]

The ADIA Code of Practice contains a clear provision that a business supplying dental products can not, in any circumstances, offer gifts in the form of cash or negotiable instruments / monetary equivalents.  This is taken to assume store gift cards, pre-loaded visa cards and similar items.

In understanding the arrangements, it’s helpful to understand that first and foremost the ADIA Code of Practice is intended to allow the healthcare professional select patient treatment options wisely and free from undue influence.  In this context, the ADIA Code of Practice applies largely on promotional activities associated with products that play a direct role in patient diagnostic and / or treatment delivery.  Conversely, promotional activities that provide gifts associated with equipment (e.g. dental chairs or sterilisers) are likely to be consistent with the ADIA Code of Practice as in many cases these won’t affect decisions associated with selections of diagnostic and / or treatment options.


Future Changes —

In mid-2016 a panel of the ADIA Code of Practice unexpectedly found that a business did not breach the ADIA Code of Practice by offering consumer electronics (e.g. iPads and notebook computers) with the sale of restorative materials.  This ran counter to what the architects of the ADIA Code of Practice intended, with the decision surprising many member businesses that had voted to support the introduction of the new framework.  In response, the ADIA Board instructed the ADIA-CAC Code Administration Committee to embark upon a review of the code that is focussed on:


Prohibiting the provision of gifts associated with the sale or order of products when offered in conjunction with a single diagnostic / treatment option; and


Introducing a nominal value (e.g. less than $100) for gifts offered in other circumstances.

The ADIA-CAC Code Administration Committee is also considering some other changes that are largely of an administrative nature that will assist the industry understand its compliance obligations.  A public comment version of the amendments is expected in March 2017.

In the past month a panel of the ADIA-CCC Code Complaints Committee has made determinations on several complaints suggesting that member businesses undertook promotional activities in a manner that was inconsistent with the ADIA Code of Practice.  Those determinations will be published in the second week of December 2016 and are consistent with the guidance provided above.

Member engagement —

With respect to the scope of the ADIA Code of Practice, the ADIA-CCC Code Complaints Committee is responsible for monitoring industry's understanding and compliance.  Any changes to the document must be approved by all ADIA Corporate Members an an extraordinary general meeting.

Currency Of Information & Disclaimer —

This update was issued on 7 December 2016 and please note that changes in circumstances after the publication of material or information may impact upon its accuracy and also change compliance obligations. The statements, regulatory and technical information contained herein are believed to be accurate and are provided for information purposes only. Readers are responsible for assessing its relevance and verifying the accuracy of the content. To the fullest extent permitted by law, ADIA will not be liable for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred in relation to or arising as a result of relying on the information presented here. 

This publication is available for your use under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence, with the exception of the ADIA logo, other images and where otherwise stated. 

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