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Government crackdown on doctor-pharma payments

Physicians could face jail over accepting some industry gifts under new plans

ABPI 

British health secretary Jeremy Hunt is to create tough new rules designed to criminalise certain gift and financial payments between doctors and pharma.

Hunt has said that new rules, designed to come into force from next year, will force senior medical staff to declare all gifts and hospitality they receive from drug companies - or face the sack and the threat of jail.

In addition, all hospitals and GP groups will be required to keep a register of hospitality and gifts from pharma firms to health service staff.

The so-called Sunshine law will build on new European rules also set to come into force next year, as well as existing rules from the ABPI that already publish aggregate payments between doctors in the UK and pharma.

The problem of pharma paying doctors incentives to help prescribe medicines is one that has been diminishing over the past 20 years.

But this month an investigation by the British newspaper The Telegraph found a number of senior NHS staff allegedly willing to accept thousands of pounds to allow pharma sales reps access to key health service managers.

Hunt said: “The Telegraph's investigation suggested that some NHS staff and professionals making these decisions may have been influenced by extravagant hospitality.

"It's hard not to conclude that some sales reps have ben ripping the NHS off, and diverting taxpayers' money away from patient care.”

The ABPI said it welcomes Hunt's announcement of a new 'Sunshine Rule'.

Dr Virginia Acha, ABPI's executive director – Research, Medical and Innovation, said: “We would welcome the opportunity to work with the Department of Health and NHS England as plans for the 'Sunshine Rule' develop, to ensure that we maximise our combined efforts on disclosure for the benefit of patients and the public.

“It appears that whilst declarations of gifts and hospitality made under the proposed Sunshine Rule signal a common ambition for greater transparency in our relationships, it will cover just a small proportion of the important interaction between industry and HCPs in comparison to our own disclosure requirements.

“For that common ambition for greater transparency to really improve relationships between healthcare professionals and industry, we also need to align on the great value of those relationships to deliver advances in science and treatment for patients, including research.  We have always maintained these interactions are a critical part of advancing improved healthcare outcomes for patients within appropriate and transparent governance frameworks."

Article by
Ben Adams

24th August 2015

From: Regulatory

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