Can we? Should we? Fostering trust through ethical practice: Insights from FPM Symposium 3rd November 2022

29th November 2022 by Laura Higgins

Our team recently partnered and attended the FPM Symposium titled ‘Can we? Should we? Fostering trust through ethical practice’. The symposium included an expert panel of speakers, to name a few: Professor Chris Whitty, Professor Ben Goldacre, Trishna Bharadia and more! The day provided thought-provoking talks and workshops with a wide variety of speakers and was the first in-person symposium since 2019! If you missed out on this amazing event, please see the insights gathered from the day below:

Engaging and warm welcome by Dr Flic Gabbay (President of FPM):

Dr Flic Gabbay started the day with a warm and engaging welcome where she mentions the importance and need for ethics and trust within pharma. Whilst the need for this has not changed, patient empowerment included in pharma has! The increase in patient empowerment has changed the way we innovate medicine for the future by securing the patient as a significant stakeholder.

This welcome set a precedent for the talks to come which touch on the importance of ethics and virtue as essential assets, improving trust in industry and patient engagement - evolving relationships with patients.

The biggest insights gathered from the day were:

The importance of ethical principles & virtue:

Professor Raanan Gillon presented an inspiring talk on the fundamental principles of medical ethics and virtue. The 4 fundamental principle of ethics include:

  • Beneficience
  • Non-maleficence
  • Respect for autonomy
  • Justice

Professor Gillon highlighted that virtues could be an additional ethics principle as virtue is essential to the moral lives of real people. Virtue is concerned with people’s way of life, including their attitudes and emotions which shapes their character and decisions. Therefore, virtue enables one to discuss medical ethics with people who have different overarching ethical frameworks e.g., colleagues and patients. When asked ‘why bother with ethical principles?’ it allows us to differentiate from good or bad and allows pharmaceutical physicians to effectively perform ethical decision-making.

Trust in healthcare and the state:

Professor Ben Goldacre delivered a fascinating and energizing session on the importance of publishing clinical trial results. Professor Goldacre recommended a standardised approach to data curation and increased transparency on publishing clinical trial results will help ensure trust from patients and the public.

He also discussed the fantastic resources such as open which facilitates the accessibility of NHS England anonymised data and which provides transparency for the % of EU clinical trial results reported by sponsors. Professor Goldacre highlighted that through this initiative huge improvements have been seen since January 2018 (49% of EU trials reported). To date sponsors have collectively reported 84% of due trials. A 2022 publication in Journal of Clinical Epidemiology reports that the UK ranked highly (93.6%) on the EU-CTR for clinical trials reported!

Additionally, it was great to learn about the largest platform for NHS electronic health records which includes unprecedented privacy. This open-source software facilitates health data analytics while protecting confidential patient information.

Professor Chris Whitty delivered an important talk on the role of the state in improving public health and how public health intervention by the state should be balanced by difficulty of the intervention, size of the health effect and strength of evidence. This was demonstrated in as a ladder of possible state intervention which ranged from providing public information, to introducing taxation and ultimately making individual citizens subject to civil or criminal law.

Additionally, it was insightful to see the effects of state health intervention in improving life expectancy over the last 100 years. Examples included the implementation of legal interventions to protect public health such as quarantine laws for infectious diseases, regulations to raise food standards or reducing air and water pollution. As well as those to prevent harmful occupational exposures or unethical advertising; preventative measures such as screening and taxation; and the importance of science-based medicine such as that during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A key take home message from this session: Prevention is better than cure’ Professor Chris Witty

Patient engagement and perspective:

Trishna Bharadia and Dr Lode Dewulf provided an interesting and interactive session on patient involvement and empowerment in pharmaceutical medicine and ways to evolve the patient relationship. This session highlighted the multitude and importance for including and diversifying the patient population within pharmaceutical medicine. The session also provided a space for open communication between speakers and attendees, many of which were pharmaceutical physicians, where expertise and key learnings could be sought.

The main concern within industry is the requirement to engage with patients more on the development of medicines. Trishna and Dr Dewulf highlight the importance of viewing patients as people and making patient engagement more accessible in pharmaceutical medicine. It is imperative that decision-making on the development of medicines should be about patient needs and ensuring industry ask the right questions. Additionally, when dealing with patient diversity in clinical trials, it is important to contextualise according to the disease area to ensure correct patient representativeness. By incorporating these factors, trust in medicines and patient empowerment can be heightened.

A key take home message from this session: Working with patients just makes sense – it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the proper thing to do.’ Trishna Bharadia.


The symposium also provided a great opportunity for medDigital to exhibit and showcase the important work we do to overcome healthcare challenges and transform patients’ lives. Our work within the life science industry is rooted in our core belief that we must help, because everyone deserves access to the best information, treatments, and care. Dr Felix Jackson (Founder & Medical Director, medDigital) shared a case study which demonstrated insight discovery strategy.

The Ask: A pharmaceutical company was seeking to address queries raised during the NICE re-appraisal of their existing treatment and needed expert advice from oncology specialists.

The Solution: This was a cross-disciplinary activity that was structured into 2 live meetings and an asynchronous online discussion. We ran these via our in-house technologies and recruited clinicians, researchers, and health economists.

The Benefit: The client was able to gather real-time advice from top UK specialists in oncology and include our executive scientific reports within their submission to NICE.

Overall, the panel discussions and workshops provided a wonderful occasion to actively engage and equip attendees with the correct tools to deal with ethics and compliance, the importance of good communication, incorporating ethical thinking and factors affecting trustworthiness in pandemic decision-making. Attendees were able to conduct stimulating conversations where concerns from personal experiences could be voiced and solutions actively developed.

Finally, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet so many past, present, and potential colleagues. The FPM Symposium team created an innovative and stimulating symposium with a great location. Not to mention the food was incredible and we can’t wait for the next symposium!

Here is our team at the FPM Symposium 2022 below:



 What other insights from the FPM Symposium did you think are useful to share? Feel free to add your comments below.

See you at the next FPM Symposium!