Health professionals back transparency of their dealings with pharma

pharmafile | October 12, 2015 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing ABPI, transparency 

The majority of doctors, nurses, hospital specialists and pharmacists believe that payments received by healthcare professionals (HCPs) from pharmaceutical companies should be transparent, according to a new survey commissioned by the ABPI

​According to the poll of more than 500 HCPs, conducted by ComRes, 87% of responders agree that payments from pharmaceutical companies to individually-named healthcare professionals should be transparent.

Only a small proportion (62 of 507) of the sample of HCPs say they currently have a relationship with one or more pharmaceutical companies, but of this group, 69% say that they have given or are likely to give permission for pharmaceutical companies they work with to disclose their payment information.

The survey results come as pharmaceutical companies prepare to disclose details of payments and other transfers of value they have made to individual HCPs and healthcare organisations (HCOs) during 2015 on a publicly-accessible, searchable database hosted on the ABPI’s website in June 2016.

The industry-led disclosure initiative is part of a Europe-wide programme to further improve transparency regarding the relationships between pharmaceutical companies and HCPs and HCOs.

Dr Virginia Acha, executive director Research, Medical and Innovation at the ABPI, says: “Our collaboration as the biopharmaceutical industry with doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare specialists enables us to research, develop and deliver medicines that make a difference for patients.

“Without the insights from and dialogue with those on the frontline of patient care, we lack the feedback on how medicines are working in practice and where further innovation is needed.  In return, healthcare professionals working with industry benefit from learning more about the latest medicines and treatment options as well as the opportunity to advance the development of medicines for the future.

“In any other industry, it is expected – and even applauded – when innovators work with users of their products and services to make progress.  We believe this is also true for medicines. We are proud of the high-quality working relationships we have with HCPs in the UK.  However, it is important to make sure these relationships are transparent. 

“Since 2012, we have been publishing the annual total amount paid to UK HCPs; this project is another step on our journey towards greater transparency which will allow patients and others to fully understand our relationships. It is great to see this survey confirm that healthcare professionals are broadly behind us in this quest for increased openness.”

However, the support of greater transparency was not universal. The survey revealed that one third (32%) of those questioned feel it is unnecessary to declare payments from pharmaceutical companies to individually-named HCPs, and just over a quarter (26%) believe that declaring these payments will adversely affect medical innovation.

Three quarters (75%) of HCPs say that the disclosure of payments from pharmaceutical companies will have no effect on their relationship with pharma companies, although there is a disparity between different types of HCPs on this point.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of GPs say they will be less likely to work with pharmaceutical companies in the future as a result of the publication of this data: considerably higher than for hospital specialists (17%), pharmacists (10%) or nurses (6%).

The survey also found that HCPs are looking towards their professional association for more information about the disclosure project, with 52 out of 62 (84%) of those who say they currently have a relationship with one or more pharmaceutical companies agreeing that they would like more information from their professional body, trade body or union about how the disclosure of payment data will affect them.

The same proportion (84%) say they would like more information about this from the pharmaceutical company or companies with whom they work. The ABPI says it is working to this end with pharmaceutical companies and is in contact with trade and professional associations to ensure HCPs are fully informed of the project.

Joel Levy

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