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Advice line: benefits received from pharmaceutical companies

Fran Fitch explains why members should publish details of benefits received from pharmaceutical companies.

Disclosure UK is a searchable online database showing payments and benefits made to NHS staff and organisations by the pharmaceutical industry. It was created in 2016 by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) in response to calls for greater transparency and integrity in the relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry. 
 
NHS England already provides comprehensive guidance on managing conflicts of interest, including gifts and sponsorship that may come from commercial organisations. Disclosure UK requires all pharmaceutical companies to provide details of payments made to health professionals. Where the individual gives consent, their details are published. 
 
Currently, only 65 per cent of professionals allow their details to be published. NHS England and the ABPI aim for 100 per cent voluntary consent. 
 
Types of activity and payment that should be disclosed include grants, donations, sponsored activities such as conference presentations, attendance at meetings, and symposia or training events. This means that any physiotherapist getting any payment or benefit from a pharmaceutical company will be asked to agree that their details are published on Disclosure UK’s website. Details published will include the funding pharmaceutical company’s name, the health professional’s name, their practising address and the payment amount or equivalent benefit in kind, in the four following categories: registration fees, travel and accommodation, fees for service/consultancy, related expenses for service/consultancy fees. 
 
Releasing this information shouldn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. If it does, the person should ask themselves why. Physiotherapists must make professional decisions without any undue commercial influence and feel confident that by participating in this national policy for disclosure, they are demonstrating and promoting the high level of integrity and transparency expected of them. 
 
  • Fran Fitch is the CSP’s research adviser

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