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Database of pharmaceutical industry payments to doctors goes live

70% of health professionals have consented to being named on the database

Ingrid Torjesen

Friday, 01 July 2016

Details of payments and benefits in kind received by doctors, nurses and pharmacists have been published for first time by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. The ABPI estimates that 70% of health professionals receiving the payments have consented for their details to be disclosed.

The www.disclosureuk.org.uk database reveals that the pharmaceutical spent £340.3 million working with UK health professionals and organisations. On average, companies spent £3.1 million and Astra Zeneca spent the most - £41.7 million.

Most of the money (£229.3 million) went on research and development activities, details of which are already disclosed through clinical trial registries and other transparency policies. The remaining third (£111 million) went to individual healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations for other activities.

Almost half of the money not spent on research and development (£46 million) was paid to healthcare professionals in fees for service and consultancy work, such as participating on advisory boards, speaking at or chairing meetings, and developing support materials for patients or other healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals also received another £14.8 million from industry in registration fees for meetings and conferences and associated travel and accommodation costs.

Meanwhile healthcare organisations received £31.4 million from industry in contributions to the cost of events, £30.3 million in donations and £3.3 million to fund joint working arrangement with NHS organisations, such as projects to improve access to services for hard to reach groups, standardise care and address treatment non-adherence.

While 70% of health professionals receiving payments have consented to be identified on the database, the ABPI says that they received just 48% of the total amount of money paid to individuals, suggesting that those receiving the highest payments had not consented to having the information made public.

Mike Thompson, chief executive for the ABPI, said: "This is a milestone moment for transparency in our industry and for the vital partnerships we have with health professionals and organisations across the UK. These partnerships matter and help our industry bring the right medicine to the right patient at the right time so we can improve quality of life and, in many cases, save lives. Getting advice from doctors, nurses and health professionals across the NHS helps us do this – we can't do it alone. We believe it's right we pay for that expertise and insight, as this is work which health professionals undertake often in addition to their day job in the NHS.”

Prof Sir Robert Lechler, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “Successful partnerships between industry, academia and the healthcare sector can speed up the rate of scientific discovery and innovation and they are key to accelerating the translation of research into benefits for society. However, many people are concerned about how these partnerships might compromise the integrity of research.

“That is why it is of the utmost importance that the nature of these collaborations and their impact on research are communicated to the public in a clear and transparent way. Disclosure UK is a welcome step towards creating the level of transparency and accountability that the public need to assess the trustworthiness of these partnerships.”

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