Healthcare professionals increasingly disclose pharma industry partnerships


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 from the ABPI research 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) — 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 (£363m).

This rise is driven by an increase in payments relating to research and development shown in aggregate, which has increased 33% from 2015 (£254m) to £338.1m in 2016.1

Seventy four percent of payments to HCPs and HCOs in 2016 relate to research and development. The remaining £116.5m (£109m 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 — £3.5m (£4m)
  • Sponsorship agreements with HCOs/3rd parties £21.1m (£16.5m)
  • Travel and accommodation — £10m (£10.8m)
  • Donations and grants to HCOs — £29.4m (£29.3m)
  • Fees for service and consultancy — £39.9m (£39.1m)
  • Related expenses agreed in the fee for services or consultancy contract — £9.6m (£6.1m)
  • Joint Working — £2.9m (£3.2m)

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

Mike Thompson, Chief Executive for 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 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.2


1. Clause 23.2 Research and Development Transfers of Value, ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry 2016

2. Managing conflicts of interest in the NHS

Sign up for your free email newsletter