The Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG), a group of 20 organisations (18 full members and two observing members) working together to improve the relationship between healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries, has launched a consultation on establishing a public register of payments made to healthcare professionals by commercial organisations.
Healthcare professionals and commercial organisations collaborate and interact in a range of activities from developing innovative treatments, sharing good clinical practice and delivering patient care. The group believes that the public disclosure of payments to health professionals represents a significant step towards fostering greater transparency and building greater trust between the medical community, industry and patients across the UK and Europe.
In June 2012, the pharmaceutical industry stated its ambition to work with the healthcare professional community to introduce a system of public disclosure of payments across Europe by 2016. Companies operating in the UK, will begin disclosing the total of payments made to healthcare professionals and the number of individuals receiving payments in spring 2013.
All healthcare organisations, commercial companies and individual healthcare professionals are being encouraged to complete the consultation questions online and to read the document Establishing a register of payments received by UK healthcare professionals from commercial organisations before completing it.
Sir Richard Thompson, co-chair of the ESHLSG and President of the Royal College of Physicians, commented:
“This consultation is intended to establish whether there is, in principle, support for a publically available, single, searchable system for disclosure of payments that is inclusive of all commercial life science organisations working in healthcare.”
As part of its work in evolving the relationship between commercial organisations and healthcare professionals in the UK, the ESHLSG has considered and outlined a set of principles on which a model of disclosure could be established, and, in particular, how healthcare professionals and industry might work together in such a system.
Deepak Khanna, co-chair of the ESHLSG and President of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, commented:
“The consultation outlines ESHLSG’s vision of the principles behind how a system of declaration could work. It does not make recommendations about which payments to declare or cover, or make specific recommendations about the practical implementation of such a system.
“Our view is that the co-creation of a system to declare payments is the right course of action and that it should be developed and agreed jointly by the relevant stakeholder groups. A move to greater transparency would address societal demands, represent an evolution in the relationship between commercial organisations and healthcare professionals and would support new ways of working in the future.”
The consultation is open for a period of three months and the ESHLSG is actively seeking views from all members of the healthcare community which will inform how the system of declaration would work.