According to a study conducted by research organization, RAND Europe, 55 percent of UK healthcare professionals who received payment or another perk from the pharmaceutical industry in 2015, disclosed that information to a publicly-accessible database. The analysis suggests a concerning lack of transparency in this practice.
The database, known as Disclosure UK, was launched in June of 2016 with the aim of making payments from pharmaceutical companies to those in healthcare, available for the public to search and view. The site is part of a larger initiative in the EU increase the visibility of pharma-doctor relationships.
A poll conducted by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry in 2016, found that over 87 percent of UK healthcare workers were in favour of disclosing pharmaceutical company payments to those in healthcare. Sixty-four percent of the 500 people surveyed believed that the information should be made accessible to the public.
Still, 26 percent of respondents said that naming individual healthcare workers was unnecessary. A similar 26 percent of healthcare professionals worried that the disclosure would change their relationship with pharma companies, while 24 percent said that the move could impede medical innovation.
“Our intent is to ensure that 100 percent of UK healthcare professionals who receive a payment or benefit in kind for the invaluable work they do with pharmaceutical companies in developing medicines and improving patient treatment gives their consent for us to publish their details,” said Mike Thompson, CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. “We will continue to work with the NHS, particularly in the light of their new conflicts of interest guidance which advocates disclosing on our database, to make this a reality. In the meantime, we are working with our European colleagues to ensure that there are fewer possibilities for data inconsistencies in the future.”
The data analysis showed that the pharmaceutical industry spent £363 million on healthcare professionals last year. The majority – about £254 million – was allocated towards research and development efforts.