Lisa Anson: pharma’s new figurehead wants to let light into the industry

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3303 (Published 10 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3303
  1. Anne Gulland, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. agulland{at}bmj.com

Pharma is on a long march to transparency, including in its relations with doctors, says the new head of the ABPI, Lisa Anson. Anne Gulland meets her and assesses the evidence

Last month the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry released the latest tranche of data on drug company payments to doctors and other healthcare professionals, showing a total of £454.5m (€520m; $590m) in 2016.1 Disclosure of payments is voluntary and recipients can choose to remain anonymous. However, this year the number of doctors and other healthcare professionals who were willing to be identified increased— from 16 087 (55%) in 2015 to 16 920 (65%) in 2016.

But some of those who receive the bigger payments have withheld their names. The 35% who chose not to reveal payments accounted for 40% of payments, excluding those for clinical research. So, a third of payments—around £150m—to healthcare professionals goes undeclared.

Transparency is a word that Lisa Anson, president of the ABPI since April, is keen on, and she is encouraged by the increase in doctors willing to be identified. Doctors have nothing to be ashamed of in their relationships with pharma, she says.

“My belief is that medical progress and treating patients to the best possible standard is a partnership. Encouraging doctors to see partnership as a good …

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