The Drug Commission of the German Medical Association (DCGMA) is the scientific expert committee for drug-related matters of the German Medical Association. It consists of 40 full members and approximately 135 associate members from all areas of medicine and pharmacy. The DCGMA is financed by the German Medical Association (BÄK) and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV). All members work voluntarily for the DCGMA.
Five members and each one representative of the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians form the board of directors which determines the general directions for the work of the commission. A central office led by an executive secretary carries out the decisions and instructions of the board of directors.
In contrast to some new established institutions in the German health care system, e.g. the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), the DCGMA has a long tradition. A forerunner organization was already founded in 1911; the present commission dates back to 1952.
The main tasks of the commission are
- providing the medical profession with various and up-to-date information on rational drug therapy and drug safety
- advising the German Medical Association in fundamental questions of pharmaceutical policy and special requests of physicians and official institutions of health care
- official expert for medical science and practice as authorised organisation for the early benefit assessment of pharmaceuticals pursuant to the Social Code (SGB V).
- reporting, documentation and assessment of adverse drug reactions:
Together with the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) the DCGMA runs the "Medical Committee for Drug Safety" (ÄAAS) and maintains a joint database for the spontaneous recording of adverse drug reactions. According to the professional code of conduct of physicians all adverse drug reactions have to be reported to the Drug Commission.
The commission uses different media and platforms to disseminate its expertise based on the knowledge of its members:
- The DCGMA informs the physicians about risks of adverse drug reactions via regular announcements in the official journal of the German medical profession, the "Deutsches Aerzteblatt".
- In a regular published flyer (Wirkstoff AKTUELL) new drugs are evaluated. Information on indication, recommendation on economic prescription, costs, risk of adverse drug reactions, etc. are shortly described. The flyer is distributed to all German physicians as a supplement to the "Deutsches Aerzteblatt".
- Since 1996 the DCGMA develops therapeutic guidelines which are intended to provide a solid basis of therapeutic rationality. Being evidence based and practice orientated, these guidelines are not supposed to restrict or replace independent and responsible action.
- Since 1925 it publishes the book "Pharmaceutical Prescriptions" which offers recommendations for a rational and economical pharmaceutical therapy.
- Since 1974 the journal "Pharmaceutical prescriptions in practice" (AVP) appears 4-6-times per year.
- The DCGMA provides own medical training seminars. Within 4 therapeutic symposia held up in different German cities new released guidelines are presented and used as an educational basis for interested physicians.
- In addition, the commission publishes health information for patients based on the therapeutic guidelines.
Carrying out these tasks, the independence of its members is of great importance for the DCGMA. Since 2002 all full and associate members as well as the academic staff of the central office have to declare their potential conflicts of interest to the chairman.