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UK healthcare professionals received £340.3 million in benefits from pharma industry in 2015 discloses ABPI

Published on 01/07/16 at 08:56am

“We don’t want our neighbours to know what we earn,” said Mike Thompson, the chief executive of industry body Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) at a media briefing in London, as he launched a new initiative that will put the details of payments received by healthcare professionals in the public domain.

The industry body has launched Disclosure UK – a database that is set to list the details of payments made to doctors, nurses and pharmacists, as well as other health professionals and healthcare organisations in the UK.

However, the disclosure is not all inclusive and will be an evolving database as Thompson explained: “Typically those who are receiving more have chosen not to disclose.”

The databsase lists £340.3 million in payments from 109 pharmaceutical companies in the UK in 2015 categorised under research and non-research activities.

Overall, the database has disclosures from recipients of 1/6th of the total £340.3 million.

The pharma industry has come under severe scrutiny across the world over bribing charges in the past months. The upcoming presidential elections in the US have provided a big platform for airing the issues as the top-job hopefuls have taken to criticising the practices in the industry. The launch of the disclosure initiative is a step towards trying to clean up the image of the pharma industry.    

The Numbers

The pharma firms spent an estimated average of £1,550 per healthcare professional and around £9,506 per healthcare organisation, according to ABPI.

The largest amount received by an individual as per this database is £98,000, while the biggest spender is the UK drug firm AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN).

Of the total, 67% or £229.3 million was spent on activities related to the research and development of new medicines, ABPI said. The remaining £111 million or 33% of non-research and development activities is grouped into payments made to individual healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations. These include fees for service and consultancy and expenses associated with these fees to the tune of £46 million, travel and accommodation worth £14.8 million and donations and grants of £30.3 million.

The average amount invested per company is around £3.1 million. About 84% of companies reported total investments of under £5 million. The companies that paid more than £5 million spent, on average, 71% on research activities.

Individual recipients of the above payments can be searched on the database by a number of criteria including the name of the doctor, nurse, pharmacist, healthcare professional or organisation and their professional address, ABPI said.

The publication of these data are now an annual requirement of the ABPI’s Code of Practice for the UK Pharmaceutical Industry and it is also part of a Europe-wide transparency initiative that has seen 33 countries make public these payments and benefits in kind this year, ABPI said.

Anjali Shukla

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