Payments from UK pharma to healthcare professionals increased in 2019

The UK’s pharmaceutical industry has published headline figures from its Disclosure UK scheme, showing payments from pharma to healthcare professionals increased in 2019. 

Disclosure UK is the public, pharmaceutical industry-led database which details aggregate R&D spend, as well as individual payments and benefits in kind made to UK healthcare professionals (HCPs) and healthcare organisations. 

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which runs the scheme, has decided not to name NHS workers, hospitals and other organisations to reduce pressure on them during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The ABPI said this is just a temporary change and that HCPs and organisations will be named once the situation has returned to normal. 

The available 2019 figures show £538.2 million has been disclosed by pharmaceutical companies for 2019, compared with £503 million in 2018. 

Of this, £381.2 million was spent on R&D, compared with £377.3 million in 2018. 

And £157 million of the disclosed money was spent on non-R&D collaborations with HCPs and organisations in 2019, versus £125.7 million in 2018.

Figures for joint working between pharma and healthcare organisations were not included because of the temporary changes. 

Joint working involves the NHS and industry pooling skills, experience and resources for patient-centred projects where there is a shared commitment for successful delivery. 

The total number of companies using Disclosure UK increased by 11, with 143 taking part in the 2019 scheme. 

As part of the work to evolve disclosure under the ABPI Code of Practice for the pharmaceutical industry, the ABPI is consulting on the proposed 2021 Code.  

It includes a proposal for an additional requirement to disclose payments for contracted services paid to members of the public (not representing a patient organisation) to include patients and journalists, from 2022. The new data will be disclosed in 2023. 

Richard Torbett, chief executive of the ABPI, said: “The 2019 disclosure data available so far tells a hugely positive story – the third successive year of increasing investment by industry in UK R&D.  This can only be a good thing for patients and the NHS. 

“We will publish the normal breakdown of disclosure data as soon as we are able, and when we do, it should also help us understand more about how the data has changed over time.  

“We’re proud of the work we do with the NHS, without which the development of new medicines and vaccines would be impossible, and will continue to strive for the highest levels of openness and transparency in the relationships between industry and healthcare professionals.” 

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