The pharmaceutical industry has taken another step towards greater transparency by announcing payments made to healthcare professionals in 2013 as an aggregate figure. 

This is an interim step towards declaration of payments to individually named healthcare professionals, which will come into effect in 2016.

Last autumn, ABPI member companies agreed to amend the ABPI Code of Practice to include disclosure requirements for payments made to individually named healthcare professionals in certain categories, including fees for consultancy services and sponsorship to attend third party medical education meetings. This will begin in 2016 for payments made in 2015.

The new aggregate figure shows that payments from the pharmaceutical industry to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals is estimated to be around £38.5m for payments made in 2013; this is marginally lower than the same period in 2012, which was around £40m.

Stephen Whitehead, ABPI Chief Executive, said: “One eighth of world’s most popular prescription medicines were developed in the UK as a result of collaboration with healthcare professionals. We know that our responsibility for medicines extends beyond sale and purchase and it would be wrong for us to develop medicines in isolation. The industry works hand in hand with healthcare professionals to ensure that our discoveries and innovations bring the best possible outcomes for patients, and working in partnership has helped the industry listen to clinical expertise and develop medicines which can be life-saving for patients.”

He added: “Individual disclosure is an important step we are now preparing for. The changes are part of the industry’s commitment to enhance transparency around these relationships, and are a response to recognising, and wanting to address, the high expectations of stakeholders in this area. We hope this will allow us to foster greater trust between the medical community, industry and patients.”

The ABPI is leading on the development of a searchable, centrally-hosted register for payments from industry to individual healthcare professionals in 2016. The ABPI is collaborating with the medical community on the best way to make this a reality. 

Stephen added: “Working in partnership will enable us to develop a single user friendly platform that is transparent and accessible. This is an ambitious project, but a critical one, and I am fully confident it will help address concerns about the relationship between healthcare professionals and industry while ensuring collaborative working that benefits patients can continue.”