Healthcare professionals received £40m from drug companies last year

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 08 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2201
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. 1BMJ

Drug companies paid around £40m (€47m; $61m) to doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom in 2012 in honorariums and other fees, according to estimates from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

The disclosure came as the pharmaceutical industry began publishing aggregate totals of payments made to doctors and other healthcare professionals as part of a drive to improve transparency.

The payments included sponsorship for NHS staff to attend medical education events, training and development, fees for speaking engagements related to clinical practice, and participation in advisory boards.

The disclosure follows agreement by ABPI members in 2011 to amend the association’s code of practice.1 That agreement will also require ABPI member companies to disclose the number of health professionals they have worked with who have received payments.

The industry has committed itself to disclosing certain payments made to healthcare professionals at an individual level across Europe by 2016, for payments made in 2015 onwards. The association said that the move would help satisfy “the high expectations of stakeholders for increased transparency.”

A consultation2 on how individual disclosures could be achieved is currently being carried out with all parties by the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group, a partnership between industry, royal colleges, and professional organisations. Publication of aggregate figures represented “a first, important step” in the process, the ABPI said.

Stephen Whitehead, ABPI chief executive, said: “Working closely with healthcare professionals has helped the industry to consult with, and listen to, clinical expertise and develop medicines which are in the best interest of patients.

“Full transparency about these relationships is right and appropriate and we have taken the lead to make this a reality. By publishing these figures, [the] industry’s aim is to ensure these vital relationships are open and transparent.”


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2201