UK pharma hopes more doctors will disclose industry payments

The head of UK’s pharma trade association has said he is confident that more doctors and healthcare professionals will declare payments for services to the industry.

Last year was the first year that pharma companies all over Europe agreed to declare payments to doctors and other healthcare professionals – but the names of individual can only be published with their consent.

UK industry organisation the ABPI last July said around 30% of health professionals had opted not to disclose payments on a searchable database, and in March the trade body revised this figure to 45% because of changes in the way that pharma companies were recording the payments.

The ABPI will in a few weeks publish new figures that will give an indication of the percentage of doctors who declared the payments under the voluntary scheme.

The ABPI’s chief executive, Mike Thompson, said ahead of the announcement that many doctors still opt out of declaring the payments under data protection laws. He wants to encourage more of them to support the scheme to improve transparency about industry’s relationships with clinicians.

The ABPI's Mike Thompson

The ABPI’s Mike Thompson

Payments on the UK database included consultancy fees, expenses, registration fees, travel and accommodation, joint working, contributions to costs of events, or donations and grants.

Thompson said at the Healthcare Distribution Association conference, representing wholesalers, that more doctors will sign up following support from the British Medical Journal and influential transparency campaigner Ben Goldacre.

Thompson told the HDA-UK conference: “I am confident we are going to see more people opting in – people should be proud about the work that they do.”

The ABPI wants to avoid the situation facing the industry in countries like France and the US, which have introduced “Sunshine Acts”, legislation obliging doctors to declare industry payments.

It hopes a successful voluntary scheme will demonstrate the integrity of industry’s relationships with clinicians without the need for potentially onerous legislation.

One ABPI member, GlaxoSmithKline, has stopped all payments to clinicians except for running clinical trials, choosing instead to have in-house doctors to make presentations at conferences and provide medical information to peers.

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