Ways in which the pharmaceutical industry can work in co-operation with the NHS are spelt out in a revised framework document agreed with the three principal organisations that represent NHS members and organisations and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).
The new document also lists more than a dozen case histories that exemplify constructive ways in which the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS have co-operated on projects to the benefit of patients throughout the country.
The groups joining the ABPI in supporting the new, revised framework are the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), the NHS Alliance and the NHS Confederation.
"The production of this publication comes at a time when relationships between the industry and the NHS have been under close scrutiny. Not only does the framework provide safeguards and reassurance that such relationships are conducted to the highest possible ethical standards, but it also spells out the clear advantages that such ventures can bring," said Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI.
"There are many ways in which the industry can work in cooperation with healthcare providers to bring additional benefits for patients, and we hope that this document will stimulate further ideas."
Graham Kendall, Head of Commercial Relations for the NHS Confederation, which brings together the full range of organisations that make up the modern NHS across the UK, said: "The modern NHS is changing rapidly - with increased diversity in providers, we need to focus on how services work together.
"Partnership is key to making the system work for patients. The NHS Confederation is pleased to support this framework, which outlines innovative examples of how organisations are working together to deliver improved patient care.
Eric McCullough, chief executive of NAPC, which represents practices, primary healthcare professionals, organisations, including PCTs and other bodies working in and with all healthcare providers outside of hospitals, said: "Working in Partnership makes sense for the patient; for the NHS and for the industry. The benefits can be huge and can result in truly modernised ways of delivering locally sensitive care, which holistically meets the needs of the individual.
"Partnership working provides an opportunity to do today what, alone, might not be possible tomorrow. Plurality of provision is now a major government policy and reflects in part the leadership given by the pharmaceutical industry of Great Britain."
Michael Sobanja, chief executive of the NHS Alliance, which represents most PCTs including individual GPs, nurses and managers, said: "Good patient care demands that the right medicines are available to the right patients at the right time. When the industry and the NHS work together in a transparent and ethical manner, then patients can only benefit. This publication demonstrates how that can be done to excellent effect."
The examples of cooperative working given in NHS and Pharmaceutical Industry Working together for Patients range from implementing national policies or guidelines, such as those on schizophrenia and mental health, to providing a support strategy for flu campaigns.
The guide stresses that all joint activities should be for the benefit of both individual patients and for wider populations and that any agreements between the industry and NHS partners should be conducted in an open and transparent way.
Other key provisions include:
The ABPI Code of Practice is currently undergoing a major revision to ensure that it meets fully all aspects of the pharmaceutical industry's relationship with the modern NHS, healthcare professionals, patients and the general public. The new code will be published by the end of the year, following a major consultation exercise.
A copy of NHS and Pharmaceutical Industry Working together for Patients can be obtained free from the ABPI, 12 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY; phone 020 7747 1446
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410