The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges welcomes today’s launch of the single, searchable, publicly available database designed to show payments made by all drugs companies to healthcare professionals. This important step towards greater transparency by the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) will allow patients and the wider public to see the total payments made by drugs companies to doctors for activities such as advising on research programmes, participating in conferences and giving feedback on the effectiveness of medicines.
The Academy does, however, have concerns which it has raised with the ABPI as to whether the proposals will be as effective as they could be. Its members believe there are two reasons the register is not going to provide a complete picture.
First, individual clinicians can opt out of having their information made public. Second, there is no facility for a clinician who receives no funding of any kind from pharmaceutical companies to register this as a ‘zero return’. This means that the public is not getting a full picture and will be unable to tell whether a doctor not listed on the database is not in receipt of any drug company funding at all or they do receive funding but have actively chosen not to allow the information made public.
Medical Royal Colleges hope that all doctors do actively participate in the disclosure process, arguing that openness and transparency should be at the heart of the important relationship between the pharmaceutical sector and the medical profession as they work together to drive through innovations in healthcare.
Professor Dame Sue Bailey, Chair of the Academy said, ‘Collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and doctors is crucial in bringing innovation and benefits to patients. But, it is essential that these relationships are transparent and for this reason we support the principles of the ABPI’s initiative. However, we do believe that the arrangements will not give the public and clinicians all the information they deserve. We hope that the system will continue to develop so we do get to a position where the full picture is available as is the case, for example, in The Netherlands The Academy and the Medical Royal Colleges and faculties are very willing to work with the ABPI about the improvements to the database we believe are necessary.’
Notes to editors
© 2021 Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.