The pharmaceutical industry takes a major step this week in its on-going transparency drive by beginning to publish aggregate totals of payments made last year to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

 

These figures set out the details of payments made by ABPI member companies relating to sponsorship for NHS staff to attend medical education events, support such as training and development, as well as fees for services such as speaking engagements to share good clinical practice and participation in advisory boards. Companies will also publish the number of health professionals they have worked with who have received payments.

Collaborative working between healthcare professionals and industry has long been a positive driving force for advancements in patient care and progress in modern medicine. New figures show that payments from the pharmaceutical industry working with healthcare professionals are estimated to be around £40m for 2012.1

Transparency is key to ensuring that health professionals and companies can continue to collaborate to bring new, innovative treatments to patients while ensuring that concerns about the relationship between health professionals and industry are addressed. The pharmaceutical industry has recognised the high expectations of stakeholders for increased transparency and has acted. Industry has, therefore, committed to disclose certain payments made to healthcare professionals at an individual level across Europe by 2016 for payments made in 2015 onwards. This week’s publication of aggregate figures is a first, important step on this journey.

The Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG), a partnership between industry, royal colleges and professional organisations is currently consulting with health professionals and life sciences companies on how disclosures at an individual health professional level can be achieved in partnership.

Commenting on the publication of the figures, ABPI Chief Executive Stephen Whitehead said:

“The industry is proud of its collaboration with healthcare professionals. Working closely with healthcare professionals has helped the industry to consult with, and listen to, clinical expertise and develop medicines which are in the best interest of patients. Full transparency about these relationships is right and appropriate and we have taken the lead to make this a reality. By publishing these figures industry’s aim is to ensure these vital relationships are open and transparent.

"It is right that professionals are reimbursed fairly for the time and expertise they regularly provide the industry in developing the next generation of medicines. These figures also show another way in which the pharmaceutical industry adds value to the NHS by supporting training and development and medical education. This support is particularly important at a time when NHS budgets are under increasing pressure.  It is right that companies are transparent about the support they provide and it is important that we also recognise the benefits this delivers the NHS."

Notes to editors

The aggregate figures published relate to ABPI member companies. Names of our members companies can be found on the ABPI’s website.

ABPI member companies are required to disclose this information as outlined in the ABPI  Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry Second 2012 Edition, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). This is available online at: www.abpi.org.uk/our-work/library/guidelines/Pages/code-2012.aspx  (Last accessed April 2013). Non-member companies which have agreed to comply with the Code are also required to make similar disclosures. 

The relevant clauses are as follows:

19.4 Pharmaceutical companies must make publicly available financial details of sponsorship of UK health professionals and appropriate administrative staff in relation to attendance at meetings organised by third parties. Sponsorship in this context includes registration fees, costs of accommodation (both inside and outside the UK) and travel outside the UK

20.2 Pharmaceutical companies must make publicly available details of the fees paid to consultants in the UK, or to their employers on their behalf, for certain services rendered by them such as chairing and speaking at meetings, assistance with training and participation in advisory boards etc. It does not include payments to consultants in relation to research and development work, including the conduct of clinical trials. Nor does it include payment of UK travel costs or the cost of subsistence in relation to fees for services which are dealt with in Clause 20.3

20.4 Fees, expenses and the like due to consultants in relation to Clauses 20.2 and 20.3 must be declared whether paid directly to them or to their employers or to companies or charities etc

Under the Supplementary Information to Clause 20 of the ABPI Code, disclosure must be in the calendar year following that in which the payments were made and the information must be made public within three calendar months of the end of the company’s financial year. For some ABPI member companies, their financial years will not match calendar years. Therefore, some companies will be publishing their payments for 2012 later this year.

1. The figures have been calculated on the basis of information received from, or published by, 35 out of the top 44 companies based on UK sales in 2012.  This includes all of the top 10 companies and 18 out of the top 20.  Companies that have disclosed payments account for 95% of the total sales of the top 44 companies. Where we do not have information from companies because of their alternative financial year and reporting periods we have taken the average spend for a company of similar size and added this to the total figures. The estimate of £40 million therefore represents a robust assessment of the aggregate for 2012. 

Information on the payments by company is published by the company.

The Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG), is a group of 20 organisations working together to improve how healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries work together.  ESHLSG is currently consulting approaches to disclosure of payments to health professionals at an individual level. The consultation can be accessed at www.eshlsg.org and welcomes all views from the healthcare community.​ 

 
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