Call for mandatory disclosure of pharma payments to NHS

England’s National Health Service is calling on the pharma industry to require healthcare professionals to declare all fees and payments received from the industry.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry last week published for the first time details of payments to healthcare professionals on a national database, including hospitality, fees and travel reimbursement.

This is part of a European-wide move to declare payments, but a large percentage of clinicians in the UK and other European countries chose to remain anonymous, thanks to EU data protection laws.

Around 30% of healthcare professionals in the UK chose to withhold their names, and this has prompted NHS England to call for the ABPI to require all healthcare professionals to identify themselves on the database.

The US “Sunshine Act” legally requires clinicians on publicly funded healthcare schemes to declare all payments received from the pharma industry.

The ABPI last week said it was disappointed that 30% chose to remain anonymous -especially as these healthcare professionals received just over half of all the £111 million payments to healthcare professionals.

This indicated that those who received the most from pharma tended to wish to remain anonymous.

An NHS England spokesperson said in a statement: “The ABPI publication is an important step forward in terms of transparency, but is not yet the complete solution.  Voluntary disclosure does not go far enough, and all companies should follow industry leaders in refusing to fund individuals who decline to be transparent about their payments.”

As part of a drive to improve transparency announced in March, NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant is developing a set of conflict of interest rules that can be adopted across the healthcare system.

For the financial year 2016/17, providers on the standard NHS contract will be required to maintain and publish a register of gifts, hospitality and conflicts of interest.

NHS England is developing a set of conflict of interest rules and has already trained 300 lay members of clinical commissioning groups, which set local priorities in primary care, in conflicts of interest management.

The crackdown follows an investigation by the Daily Telegraph newspaper, which last year revealed senior health staff who decide on formularies for GPs and hospitals are being paid to work as consultants for pharmaceutical companies.

 

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