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Most clinicians back moves to make pharma industry ties more transparent

But quarter of GPs say they would be less likely to work with these companies, survey finds

Caroline White

Monday, 12 October 2015

Most clinicians back moves to make payments received from pharma companies more transparent, finds a survey commissioned by the industry body, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

But a significant minority of GP respondents said they would be less likely to work with pharma companies as a result, finds the poll, carried out by the ComRes consultancy.

​Among 500 healthcare professionals questioned, including 127 GPs and similar numbers of hospital pharmacists, nurses, and specialists, 87% agreed that payments from pharmaceutical companies to individually named healthcare professionals should be transparent.

Seven out of ten (69%) with a current relationship with one or more pharma companies said that they have already given or are likely to give permission for the companies they work with to disclose their payment information.

The survey results come amid preparations to disclose details of payments and other transfers of value pharmaceutical companies have made to individual healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations this year on a publicly accessible, searchable database that will be hosted on the ABPI's website from June 2016.

The initiative is part of a Europe-wide programme to boost transparency in respect of the relationships between the industry and the healthcare sector.

Dr Virginia Acha, the ABPI’s Executive Director Research, Medical and Innovation, said that these relationships were important for the development of new treatments and patient care.

"In any other industry, it is expected – and even applauded – when innovators work with users of their products and services to make progress. We believe this is also true for medicines. We are proud of the high-quality working relationships we have with [healthcare professionals] in the UK,” she said. 

“However, it is important to make sure these relationships are transparent. Since 2012 we have been publishing the annual total amount paid to UK [healthcare professionals] – this project is another step on our journey towards greater transparency which will allow patients and others to fully understand our relationships. It is great to see this survey confirm that healthcare professionals are broadly behind us in this quest for increased openness," she added.

Nevertheless, one in three (32%) of those questioned felt it unnecessary to declare payments from pharmaceutical companies to individually named healthcare professionals, while one in four (26%) believe that declaring these payments will adversely affect medical innovation.

Three out of four said that the disclosure of payments from pharmaceutical companies will have no effect on their relationship with these companies, but views differed according to professional group, the survey found.

Around a quarter (23%) of the GPs said they would be less likely to work with the industry in the future as a result of the publication of these data, which is considerably higher than hospital specialists (17%), pharmacists (10%) or nurses (6%).

The survey also found that healthcare professionals are looking towards their professional association for more information about the disclosure project, with 52 out of 62 (84%) of those who say they currently have a relationship with one or more pharmaceutical companies agreeing that they would like more information from their professional body, trade body, or union about how the measure will affect them.

The same proportion (84%) said they would like more information about this from the pharmaceutical company or companies with whom they work.

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