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Spending by pharma on UK R&D increased last year

Data shows third annual increase in a row

ABPI reception

New data shows that the pharmaceutical industry invested £381m ($472m) on R&D activities in the UK in 2019, the third annual increase in a row.

The figure comes from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Disclosure UK database, an industry-generated database of payments and benefits made to UK healthcare professionals and organisations.

Designed to increase the transparency of the pharma industry’s associations with doctors and other healthcare workers, the searchable database was first published in 2016.

The R&D spend in 2019 represents a 1% increase on the £377m spent in 2018, which in turn was 1,7% up on the prior year. ABPI president Richard Torbett said the increased investment “can only be a good thing for patients and the NHS”.

Rising much faster, however, were payments to healthcare professionals and organisation for non-R&D purposes, which climbed by nearly 25% to £157m.

The 2019 data is currently in a truncated form, as the ABPI did not want to disrupt the activities of NHS workers, hospitals and other NHS organisations as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It means the spend isn’t broken down by individual healthcare professional or organisation, as normal, although the ABPI says it intends to update the report to include that as soon as the coronavirus crisis allows.

“We will publish the normal breakdown of disclosure data as soon as we are able and when we do, it should also help us understand more about how the data has changed over time,” said Torbett.

“We’re proud of the work we do with the NHS, without which the development of new medicines and vaccines would be impossible, and will continue to strive for the highest levels of openness and transparency in the relationships between industry and healthcare professionals,” he added.

All told, pharma spending in the UK climbed 7% to £538m last year, up from £503m in 2018, according to Disclosure UK.

There could be changes afoot for the database in future as well, as the ABPI’s ongoing consultation into its code of practice means that from 2022 it may include payments for contracted services paid to members of the public – not representing a patient organisation – which could include patients and journalists.

Article by
Phil Taylor

1st July 2020

From: Healthcare

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