Doctor guilty over eye drop endorsement
An eye specialist has been found guilty of professional misconduct for endorsing an eyedrop in newspapers and magazines.
Dr Samuel Hui Tak-wing (pictured) had failed to prevent the printing of an interview that endorsed the Alcon product in five publications, the Medical Council concluded yesterday.
Hui, who has practised for two decades, will be sent a warning letter and the order will be published in the gazette.
But the ophthalmologist, who claimed he did not know the eyedrop's name would appear in the article, was spared from having his name removed from the doctor's register.
In 2004, the doctor was approached by the manufacturer for an interview on eye allergies. The article was published in the Apple Daily, Headline Daily, TVB Weekly, Parents Magazine and Life Style Plus in 2004 and 2006.
His name, his title as ophthalmologist and his picture appeared in the article, which also carried the name and picture of the eyedrop, Patanol, legal officer Matthew Leung said at a disciplinary hearing.
'New drugs are strong in their effects. [The users] only need to use them once in the morning and once at night,' the article quoted the doctor as saying.
In the five articles that shared similar content, Hui also explained that half of those suffering from a nose allergy would have an eye allergy simultaneously.
Three of the articles were reproduced on Alcon's website.
Hui did not give evidence, but his defence counsel said the doctor did not mention Patanol in the interview for the article and received no benefit from it. The council concluded that the five articles were clearly published to promote Patanol.
'Although the defendant had not been cited as referring directly to the product, his comments tied in with the benefits of the product,' the temporary chairwoman of the council, Deborah Wan Lai-yau, said.
While the council was not sure if Hui had agreed to the first article's publication, as time went on he must have acquiesced in the publication of the subsequent ones, Wan said.
It is a long-standing rule of ethics in the medical profession that doctors should not be involved in public endorsement of a commercial product and the publications constituted professional misconduct, she added.
In choosing a penalty, the council took into account Hui's clear record and the remorse he showed in not contesting the charge.
Hui appeared relieved after hearing the sentence. '[Alcon] never told me the eye drop's name would appear in the article,' he said.
The Medical Council received an anonymous complaint against Hui in 2007, but a hearing set for last year was rescheduled.