Data published by the ABPI shows a significant increase in the number of healthcare professionals consenting to sharing details of payments for collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry. The 2016 figures show

  • an estimated 65% of healthcare professionals consent to disclose payments and benefits in kind – and they receive 60% of the (non-R&D) payments made to healthcare professionals
  • 82% of payments and benefits in kind not related to research and development is disclosed on a named, individual healthcare professional and organisation basis
  • three quarters (74%) of payments and benefits in kind are related to industry’s work with healthcare professionals and organisations to research and develop new medicines.

The data, published on Disclosure UK – the pharmaceutical industry’s database of payments and benefits in kind made to UK healthcare professionals (HCPs) and organisations (HCOs) – also shows a substantial increase in how much industry spends on partnerships relating to research and development activities in the UK during 2016.

An estimated 65% of healthcare professionals that collaborated with industry last year have given permission to publish details of these partnerships today — a 10 percentage point increase on the 55% who consented to release this information for 2015.

In 2016 the pharmaceutical industry spent a total of £454.5 million working in partnership with leading UK health experts and organisations to improve patient care – a 25% increase from 2015 (£363 million).

This rise is driven by an increase in payments relating to research and development shown in aggregate, which has increased 33% from 2015 (£254 million) to £338.1 million in 2016. 74% of payments to HCPs and HCOs in 2016 relate to research and development.

The remaining £116.5 million  (£109 million in 2015) was for payments and benefits in kind not related to aggregate research and development and covered activities with HCPs and HCOs in the following areas:

  • registration fees: £3.5 million (£4 million)
  • sponsorship agreements with HCOs/third parties: £21.1 million (£16.5 million)
  • travel and accommodation:  £10 million (£10.8 million)
  • donations and grants to HCOs: £29.4 million (£29.3 million)
  • fees for service and consultancy: £39.9 million (£39.1 million)
  • related expenses agreed in the fee for services or consultancy contract: £9.6 million (£6.1 million)
  • Joint Working: £2.9 million (£3.2 million).

Eighty two per cent of this money is disclosed on an individual, named healthcare professional or healthcare organisation basis. 115 companies disclosed payments and benefits in kind for 2016. The average amount spent per company is around £4 million. Companies that spent more than £5 million invested, on average, 75% of this on research and development activities.

Mike Thompson, Chief Executive for the ABPI, said: “We have seen a significant step change in behaviour in the past year which we welcome wholeheartedly and should be applauded. Increasingly, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are doing the right thing in disclosing their collaborations with industry. I am by no means complacent however; we can and we should be achieving greater transparency.”

“We remain committed to achieving a 100% consent rate in relation to the vital work that the industry does with HCPs and HCOs for the benefit of patients. Greater commitment to this ambition from the NHS, Royal Colleges and professional bodies gives me hope that, collectively, we will achieve this.”

“The industry’s commitment to research and development to bring the newest, most effective medicines to patients in this country is also indicated in these figures. With more than £300 million spent in 2016 on partnerships with HCPs and HCOs on the scientific discovery of life-changing medicines last year, the industry remains committed to really making a difference to the lives of patients and their families in the UK.”

The increasing consent rate comes ahead of guidance introduced by NHS England and separately by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in 2017 encouraging healthcare professionals to disclose relevant payments and benefits in kind via Disclosure UK.