Transparency of financial relationships between industry and healthcare professionals is an important priority for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and its members. Last autumn, ABPI member companies agreed to amend the ABPI Code of Practice¹ to include disclosure requirements for payments made to individually named healthcare professionals in certain categories, including fees for consultancy services and sponsorship to attend third party medical education meetings. This will begin in 2016 for payments made in 2015.²
Healthcare professionals and commercial organisations regularly work together on initiatives that are instrumental in ensuring the best possible patient care and sharing good clinical practice. Collaborative working is essential in gaining the real-world information necessary to develop and deliver innovative treatment choices that improve the health and life of patients, and to support future research and development. These relationships also help the flow of information between industry and the NHS.
The new aggregate figure shows that payments from the pharmaceutical industry to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals is estimated to be around £38.5m for payments made in 2013;³ this is marginally lower than the same period in 2012, which was around £40m.
Stephen Whitehead, ABPI Chief Executive, said:
“One eighth of world’s most popular prescription medicines were developed in the UK as a result of collaboration with healthcare professionals. We know that our responsibility for medicines extends beyond sale and purchase and it would be wrong for us to develop medicines in isolation. The industry works hand in hand with healthcare professionals to ensure that our discoveries and innovations bring the best possible outcomes for patients, and working in partnership has helped the industry listen to clinical expertise and develop medicines which can be life-saving for patients.
“Individual disclosure is an important step we are now preparing for. The changes are part of the industry’s commitment to enhance transparency around these relationships, and are a response to recognising, and wanting to address, the high expectations of stakeholders in this area. We hope this will allow us to foster greater trust between the medical community, industry and patients.”
The ABPI is leading on the development of a searchable, centrally-hosted register for payments from industry to individual healthcare professionals in 2016. The ABPI is collaborating with the medical community on the best way to make this a reality. On 2 April, the ABPI hosted a stakeholder roundtable with key representatives from the royal medical colleges and other healthcare professional bodies to discuss next steps on development of this register.
“Working in partnership will enable us to develop a single user friendly platform that is transparent and accessible. This is an ambitious project, but a critical one, and I am fully confident it will help address concerns about the relationship between healthcare professionals and industry while ensuring collaborative working that benefits patients can continue.”
Notes to editor
1The ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry is administered by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) .
2Individual disclosure is enshrined in the EFPIA Disclosure Code which has been adopted across 33 European countries.
3This figure has been calculated on the basis of information received from, or published by, 34 out of the top 40 companies based on UK sales in 2013. Where we do not have information from companies it is because of their alternative financial year and reporting periods. The 38.5m figure can be broken down as follows:
• Consultancy services: £27.7m
• Sponsorship to attend third party meetings: £10.8m
Fees for consultancy services – this includes, but is not limited to, activities such as speaking at and chairing meetings, participating in advisory board meetings, involvement in medical/scientific studies, clinical trials or training services and undertaking media activity, including filming and participation in market research activity (under relevant contractual agreement).
Financial sponsorship for attendance at independent (third party organised) medical education meetings – covering registration fees, international travel, accommodation and reasonable refreshments/subsistence etc.
ABPI member companies, and non-members who voluntarily comply with the Code, are required to disclose their company’s own figures on their website three months after the end of their calendar year (or financial year if it is different from the calendar year). Companies will also publish the number of healthcare professionals they have worked with in both of these categories.
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