Pharma companies in the UK paid healthcare professionals £40m in sponsorship and support during 2012.
The data was published by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which said all of its members will publish aggregate totals of payments made last year to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals as part of a drive towards greater industry transparency.
This was made a requirement when ABPI members voted in 2011 to amend its Code of Practice to help increase transparency of working practices between pharma and healthcare professionals and increase trust.
The obligation covers payments relating to the sponsorship of NHS staff to attend medical education events, training and speaker fees. All companies will also publish the number of healthcare professionals who have received these payments.
The £40m figure is an estimate based on information received from, or published by, 35 out of the top 44 companies based on UK sales in 2012. When such information is unavailable, the ABPI said it has taken the average spend for a company of similar size and added this to the total figures.
This compares to figures in the US, where big pharma was found to have paid US doctors $150m in the first eight months of 2011.
According to the ABPI's CEO, Stephen Whitehead: “Full transparency about these relationships is right and appropriate and we have taken the lead to make this a reality.
“By publishing these figures industry's aim is to ensure these vital relationships are open and transparent.”
He also explained the need for pharma payments to healthcare professionals, saying it was “right” that they were reimbursed fairly for their time.
“These figures also show another way in which the pharmaceutical industry adds value to the NHS by supporting training and development and medical education,” he added.