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NHS and private healthcare staff received £40m from drugs companies in one year

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Doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals in the UK received £40m in 2012 from pharmaceutical companies, figures suggest.

The money was paid to both NHS and private staff for consultancies, sponsorships and other interactions with drug businesses, according to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

According to a spokesperson, the money was paid for attending medical education events, training and development, and fees for services such as speaking engagements to share good clinical practice and participation in advisory boards.

The ABPI said it had released the figures as part of an ongoing ‘transparency drive’. Leading figures from the medical and pharmaceutical industries announced in January that an examination was underway to decide whether healthcare staff paid by drug companies should declare their earnings on a public register.

The Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group, which launched the consultation, said such disclosure would be a “significant step” towards greater transparency between the industries.

The ABPI added that private companies also plan to reveal the number of healthcare professionals on their payrolls to keep relationships between the industries open and transparent.

“The industry is proud of its collaboration with healthcare professionals,” said ABPI chief executive Stephen Whitehead.

“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.”

He added: “It is right that professionals are reimbursed fairly for the time and expertise they regularly provide the industry in developing the next generation of medicines.”

Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • People will no doubt comment negatively about this, but those of us who actually work with Pharma, within today's very tight guidelines - (not even any free pens now!) will know that without the support of these companies, the amount of education available to NHS staff would be a tiny percentage of what it is now - our employers simply do not see the need for ongoing education and updating. As a specialist nurse I also speak at meetings and conferences occasionally, about subjects such as accountability, concordance, treatment principles etc, certainly not promoting one drug over another, and the reimbursement is definitely not large, and speaking personally it is NOT done in NHS time either - I take annual leave. The companies also provide information about their products which allows us to prescribe appropriately for patients. In the same way as we would go into an electrical store and get the information about their products before making a choice. Professionals who misguidedly refuse to see pharma reps simply do not get the information needed for safe prescribing and I see mistakes happening because of this. Please look at the ABPI guidelines, particularly around the separation of promotion from medical information and education, to see behind the headlines.

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