Healthcare professionals (HCPs) working in the UK received a total of £38.5m from pharma companies, according to figures published by the country's trade body.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) calculated the aggregate figure based on data from 34 of the top 40 pharma companies for UK sales and said it had published the result as part of a greater commitment towards industry transparency.
The figures show a slight decrease year-on-year for payments to healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, with the 2012 figure standing at £40m.
Broken down, the payments made in 2013 came to £27.7m for consultancy services, such as speaking at meetings and involvement in medical studies, and £10.8m for sponsorship to attend third party meetings, covering travel, accommodation, registration fees etc.
The ABPI said the publication of the figure was an 'interim step' towards declaration of payments to individually named healthcare professionals, which will come into effect in 2016.
This plan is part of new transparency regulation introduced at the beginning of the year by the EU trade body the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
This regulation requires that companies disclose all 'transfers of value' to HCPs for consultancy fees, payment for travel or congress fees etc, as well as a complete ban on all 'gifts'.
Last autumn the ABPI agreed to update its own national Code of Practice to reflect these European changes, with the first full disclosure of specific HCP payments to take place in 2016 and covering payments made during 2015.
The ABPI's CEO Stephen Whitehead commented that this individual disclosure will be “an important step” for the industry.
"The changes are part of the industry's commitment to enhance transparency around these relationships, and are a response to recognising, and wanting to address, the high expectations of stakeholders in this area,” he said.
“We hope this will allow us to foster greater trust between the medical community, industry and patients."
And companies will have to follow the regulation, or the entire industry could face even stricter legislation.
Last year at the European CME Forum, Anne Erwin – representing EFPIA – said: “If we don't get this right, we all know what will happen. That is, legislation will hit. In the spirit of this, it is best to embrace this code and try and work together collectively to make it a success.”
Companies working in the US now also face disclosure of HCP payments after the introduction of the Sunshine Act. Its impact is already being felt, with analysis by ProPublica demonstrating that payments made by some pharma companies fell dramatically from 2011 to 2012.