George Freeman, Life Sciences Minister, addressed more than 50 leaders in UK healthcare last night at a high profile debate hosted by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the Guardian’s Healthcare Network focusing on delivering greater openness about relationships between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals.
The event took place ahead of the launch of 'Disclosure UK' on 30 June 2016, which for the first time will make available the details of payments and benefits in kind made to individual UK healthcare professionals by pharmaceutical companies through a new publicly searchable database. This precedes the introduction of a UK "sunshine rule" on dealings between NHS staff and pharmaceutical firms as announced by Secretary State for Health Jeremy Hunt in August 20152, and builds on the industry's own disclosure initiatives first introduced in 20123.
Disclosure UK will show details of fees paid for services including consultancy and advisory services, speaking opportunities, or sponsorship of medical education, to individual doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other healthcare professionals by pharmaceutical companies. To publish these details, pharmaceutical companies require an individual's consent to process their personal data. Members of the public will be able to access this information through a single online database using a simple web based search tool or also by downloading the whole dataset.
George Freeman's keynote followed a panel debate chaired by Sarah Boseley, the Guardian's Health Editor on 'How does the pharmaceutical industry work with healthcare professionals?' The panel featured Nikki Yates, Senior Vice President UK and Ireland Pharmaceuticals and UK General Manager for GSK; Dr Virginia Acha, Executive Director, Research, Medical and Innovation at the ABPI; Eric Low, Chief Executive of Myeloma UK; Ash Soni, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society; GP Margaret McCartney; and Dr Graham Jackson, Co-chair of the NHS Clinical Commissioners and Clinical Chair of Aylesbury Vale.
George Freeman, Life Sciences Minister said "In a tax-funded health system, we need to justify every pound of public money spent and that is why we need to have effective and unambiguous working relationships between the companies developing new treatments and the clinicians who will make the decisions on using them. It's what the public expects, and it is what the close partnership between industry and the NHS deserves.
We should be ambitious, and make sure this partnership is an example to the world. It is encouraging therefore that trade associations such as the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and others have shown that they are willing partners in addressing the issues we face. They are an essential partner in making change a reality."
Dr Virginia Acha, Executive Director, Research, Medical and Innovation at the ABPI said "Innovation and collaboration are key to addressing some of the unprecedented challenges our healthcare system faces. Critical to this is an effective partnership between doctors, nurses and the pharmaceutical industry in the research, development and delivery of life-saving medicines.
Disclosure UK will shine a welcome light of transparency on this relationship and is a significant step forward in maintaining public confidence in how healthcare professionals and the industry that develops the medicines they need work together to transform the lives of patients, carers and families."
Nikki Yates, Senior Vice President UK and Ireland Pharmaceuticals and UK General Manager for GSK said "Patients need progressive science that strives to improve quality of life, and neither healthcare professionals nor pharmaceutical companies can deliver this without working collaboratively with each other.
"GSK - and other members of the ABPI - are united on backing disclosure as a way of demonstrating how this relationship works in practice, and when Disclosure UK is launched, I'd call on industry, the media and the public to support, applaud and commend clinicians and companies who are pioneers in demonstrating that there should be nothing to hide."
Notes to editors
Video excerpts from the event will be made available via the ABPI website week commencing Monday 9 May.
1. 24 August 2015, "ABPI welcomes Jeremy Hunt's 'Sunshine Rule' as a positive addition to industry's disclosure initiative"
2. Currently, payments to healthcare professionals by pharmaceutical companies are made publicly available on an aggregate basis. Since 2012 under the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry companies have disclosed the number of healthcare professionals they work with, the total amount paid for fees for service and sponsorship to attend educational meetings. The development of Disclosure UK is part of a Europe-wide initiative delivered in 33 European countries as part of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) Disclosure Code. This has been adopted into the ABPI Code and companies are required to disclose transfers of value – payments and benefits in kind – made to UK healthcare professionals and other relevant decision makers and healthcare organisations during 2015 on an individual, named basis by 30 June 2016. The disclosures will be made annually thereafter.
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About the ABPI
The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.
Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. We represent companies supplying around 90 per cent of all medicines used by the NHS, and are researching and developing the majority of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome diseases.
The ABPI is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry, for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.