Data published by Disclosure UK has shown that the pharmaceutical industry spent £377.3 million on collaborations relating to R&D activities in the UK during 2018.

This figure marks an increase from £370.9 million in 2017, signalling “The strength of the sector through a period of economic uncertainty”, according to The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Disclosure UK, the pharmaceutical industry-led database of payments and benefits in kind made to UK healthcare professionals (HCPs) and organisations (HCOs), also found that In 2018, 57.2% of healthcare professionals agreed for the payments they receive from pharmaceutical companies to be made public on the site, a significant improvement on 49% in 2017.

The wider figures also showed that £508.1 million has been disclosed by pharmaceutical companies for 2018, compared with £499.3 million in 2017, and that £130.8 million of this was spent on non-R&D collaborations with HCPs and HCOs - vs £128.4 million in 2017 – and 83.1% of this was disclosed against a named person or organisation.

The money was spent on registration fees, sponsorship agreements with HCOs or 3rd parties, travel and accommodation and donations to HCOs among other things.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, said that the investment from companies is “excellent news at a time of economic uncertainty and signals the strength of the sector in the UK.”

He continued, “We can’t discover or bring to market new medicines without the expertise of doctors and nurses. It’s vital that companies can collaborate with those people, and that we’re open and transparent about any payments we make to them.

“Everybody working with the pharmaceutical industry should publish the details of their work so that the public can be confident about those relationships and understand the importance of this collaboration towards improved healthcare. We’re moving in the right direction but there’s clearly much more to be done to convince doctors of the importance of being more open about the money they receive.”

Across Europe, pharmaceutical companies are publicly disclosing the payments they make to healthcare professionals and organisations. Britain’s Disclosure UK represents significant efforts by the industry to be transparent in the UK.

The ABPI states that “The Industry’s ambition is for full transparency about how and why they pay healthcare professionals for their work and we will continue to work closely with the NHS and others to drive this forward.”