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UK pharma made £41 million in doctor payments

Published on 16/07/15 at 09:39am
The ABPI will switch to a new system of individual payment disclosures in 2016

The pharma industry made £41m in payments to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in the UK in 2014, the latest figures from the trade body the ABPI reveal.

The figures show that payments by 50 ABPI member companies during 2014 were around £41 million. This is slightly higher than in 2013 (£38.5 million across 34 companies) and 2012 (£40 million across 35 companies).

The £41 million includes £30.2 million for consultancy services for pharma companies and £10.8 million firms paid to sponsor attendance at  meetings, and relates to 28,556 ‘relationships’ with healthcare professionals

The figures are still dwarfed by the $1.5 billion that pharma paid to doctors and teaching hospitals in the US. This included fees for participation in research and development and clinical trials, which the ABPI does not currently collate, but will begin to under a new system being brought in.

This is the last count of the industry’s aggregate payments to healthcare professionals. In 2016 the ABPI will switch to a new system where companies will have to reveal individual payments made to healthcare professionals.

The requirements of the current aggregate disclosure system cover consultancy fees, accommodation and overseas travel, and sponsorship to attend events organised by third parties. 

From 30 June 2016, companies will be reporting payments made to individual, named, healthcare professionals, starting with payments made during 2015, on a searchable database managed by the ABPI. This new platform will include payments for four categories of activity: registration fees for meetings and events, travel and accommodation, fees for consultancy and services, and expenses for consultancy and services.

The ABPI says the switch “signals industry’s commitment to increased transparency in its relationships with healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations.”

“Our relationships with healthcare professionals are paramount to developing life-saving and life-enhancing medicines,” says Dr Virginia Acha, ABPI’s executive director research, medical and innovation. “By working with doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals we are able to combine knowledge of innovative new treatments with clinical best practice to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.

“We are committed to being transparent about these relationships and we have become increasingly more open about the payments being made for these collaborations. This year marks the end of aggregate reporting of payments in this way and heralds the start of an era of even more openness when payments to individual healthcare professionals will be disclosed for a wider range of activities.

“We are currently engaging with representative bodies of healthcare professionals to explain industry’s commitment to increased transparency and we hope as many healthcare professional as possible will agree to their data being published on the new database in support of this increased transparency.”

Lilian Anekwe

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