Pharmaceutical industry invests £340.3m to improve patient care, reports APBI

The publication of these data is now an annual requirement of the ABPI’s Code of Practice for the UK pharmaceutical industry

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has, for the first time, published details of payments or benefits in kind — made to doctors, nurses and pharmacists, as well as other health professionals and healthcare organisations in the UK on a publicly accessible database — Disclosure UK.

This new databsase, available to download on the ABPI website, shows payments from 109 pharmaceutical companies in the UK (54 ABPI member companies and 55 non-member companies).

The data show that, in 2015, industry spent a total of £340.3m on working with health professionals and organisations, of which £229.3m (67%) is for activities related to the research and development of new medicines.

The remaining £111m (33%) of non-research and development activities is grouped into payments made to individual healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations. These are as follows:

  • fees for service and consultancy and expenses associated with these fees (£46 m or 13.5 % of total investment)
  • registration fees and associated travel and accommodation (£14.8m or 4.3%)
  • joint working (£3.3m or 1% of total spend)
  • contribution to the cost of events (£31.4m or 9.2% of total investment)
  • donations and grants (£30.3m or 8.9% of total investment).

Typically, an estimated 70% of individual healthcare professionals are giving their consent for this information to be disclosed on a named basis.

Companies spent an estimated average of £1550 per healthcare professional and around £9506 per healthcare organisation.

Individual recipients of the above payments can be searched on the database by a number of criteria including the name of the doctor, nurse, pharmacist, healthcare professional or organisation and their professional address. The average amount invested per company is around £3.1m. 84% of companies reported total investments of less than £5m. Companies that paid more than £5m spent, on average, 71% on research activities.

Mike Thompson, Chief Executive for the ABPI, said: ‘This is a milestone moment for transparency in our industry and for the vital partnerships we have with health professionals and organisations across the UK. These partnerships matter and help our industry bring the right medicine to the right patient at the right time so we can improve quality of life and, in many cases, save lives. Getting advice from doctors, nurses and health professionals across the NHS helps us do this. We can’t do it alone. We believe it’s right we pay for that expertise and insight, as this is work which health professionals undertake often in addition to their day job in the NHS.’

He added: ‘We’re committed to transparency. We believe it’s right that the public has the opportunity to see some of the detail behind how we work with doctors, nurses, pharmacists and organisations to ensure life-enhancing medicines are developed for the patients who need them. This is an important step in sharing as much as of that information as we can.’

The publication of these data is now an annual requirement of the ABPI’s Code of Practice for the UK pharmaceutical industry and it is also part of a Europe-wide transparency initiative that has seen 33 countries make public these payments and benefits in kind this year.

Companies