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Would you accept payment from the drugs industry?

  • Comments (8)

Last week the ABPI released figures suggesting that doctors, nurses and other health professionals in the UK received £40m last year from pharmaceutical companies. The money pays for medical education events, training and development, and fees for services such as speaking engagements and participation in advisory boards.

I know many nurses, particularly those with specialist roles, benefit from the educational events and sponsorship offer by drug and appliance companies. But should professionals, who make objective decisions about purchasing products and drugs, rely on this financial support. Is it naïve to think there is no undue influence?

We all like to assume we would not be open to influence of the drugs industry but we have to question why spends such large amounts of money on us – after all their job is to ultimately to generate sales.

I have attended sponsored educational events and seen the benefits that could be gained from amassing potential customers in one place at the same time. If you have a new product to sell this is the ideal way to market it. Yet it is clear these events also provide valuable information and a chance from nurses to network and share experiences.  

Many nurses are struggling to find funding for education and training and there is a growing dependence on industry financial support. Nurses who receive such support need to be clear about their relationship with industry, and this must be open and transparent. This is vital to ensure that we continue to serve the needs of the patient not the company who funds training.

But an additional concern is how we meet the training needs of nurses whose jobs do not fall into the target groups for drug industry investment. Post Francis there is clear evidence that all nurses need time out to reflect on care; to have supervision and regular updating. Who is looking out for all their training and networking needs?

  • Comments (8)

Readers' comments (8)

  • Anonymous

    Regular training and updates are an obligation both for the clinician to do and the emploers to provide. Was the case pre Francis.

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  • Agree and if we act like the professionals we are we will recognise that we must avoid being influenced. Hard enough getting any updates at all without pharms helping us -many nurses would have nothing whatever the rules and regs are

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  • Yes I have gone to educational events paid for by Endoscopy equipment companies, why not? I have to keep up to date in my speciality and there is frequently a freeze on the training budget in our Trust. I don't hold the budget for the department so I'm not going to buy their equipment just because they send me on a course! In fact nurses rarely get a say on how money is spent or what equipment is bought in our hospital.

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  • Anonymous

    Hell yes I would!

    If they are the only ones offring to pay for mandatory CPD (the government/trust/wards aren't dipping into their pockets for it) and I have to pay out of my own pocket and use up my own free time, then I'd bite their hands off.

    If they want to give me 'payments' for services, then it might make my pathetic salary closer to what it should be.

    Everyone else is at it, why the hell shouldn't nurses get a piece of the pie?

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  • 2 week paid vacation, sorry seminar, in the Bahamas would be nice.

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  • Anonymous

    I have attended 'study days' relevant to the areas I work in, we get a great free lunch, pens and post-it notes. Why not, we don't get anything from the NHS - gone are the days when you could guarantee a day off to attend study days or got full funding for a course.

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  • Anonymous

    Myself and my colleagues regularly attend 'contraband' nights - regular training events sponsored by baby milk/baby food/product manufacturers - the training they provide is essential - the topics are diverse from gastrointestinal reflux and its management to bonding and attachment, there is no alternative training and as a professional i feel i am able to exercise good clinical judgement in taking what is relevant and leaving the sales pitch at the door. I've undergone the excellent unicef training for breastfeeding provided by our employers (who are not overjoyed by our attendence at the 'contraband' events but as it is out of work hours and we do not return armed with the logo'd freebies there is little they can do) but in an area of very high deprivation where breastfeeding remains stubbornly low, I need to be able to support parents who choose to bottle feed by having the correct information, where else are we going to get this info when baby friendly initiatives ban employers from providing it? There isn't the funds for employers to provide training on the wide range of topics needed to enhance our practice; it is narrow minded to think that skilled professionals are unable to see further than the names and logos on to the free pens to pick out relevant practice enhancing information. I am very aware of the messages using logo'd products sends out to the parents we support, hence why we don't bring it back.

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  • There are no more pens or post it notes - ABPI rules changed some while ago. If I am prescribing for a patient, I need to know about the drugs, and keep updated via these seminars which bring together expert practitioners to share good practice. The NHS does not support this for us, and it is my responsibility to stay up to date so this is how I do it. Of course there is influence - I am influenced by the experiences of my fellow professionals who speak at these events, and I obtain information about the drugs and treatments I use from the companies that produce them, just as I would if I was buying a new cooker or car. And then I make the choice of what is appropriate for that patient, from the range available. The worst practitioners are those who "never see drug reps" as they don't have an awareness of newer or more appropriate products, not the knowledge of the good and less good aspects of the treatments which are only observed in clinical practice and shared at these events. I find it insulting that some believe we would prescribe one drug rather than another for any other reason than that it is the best clinical decision, made in concordance with the patient.

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