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Evaluating the transparency of pharmaceutical company disclosure of payments to patient organisations in the UK

Richard, Emily ; Ozieranski, Piotr and Mulinari, Shai LU (2019) In Health Policy
Abstract
Patient organisations contribute to many areas of pharmaceutical policy. In developing their organisational capacity, many turn to financial support from pharmaceutical companies, which may create conflicts of interests. However, the transparency of the industry’s self-regulatory approach to the disclosure of payments to patient organisations has evaded scrutiny. Using company reports disclosing payments to UK patient organisations in 2012-2016, we evaluate the transparency of reporting using indicators derived from industry’s European patient organisation Code. We found a large proportion of companies did not have any disclosure reports available despite many having made payments, confirmed by comparing with annual financial accounts of... (More)
Patient organisations contribute to many areas of pharmaceutical policy. In developing their organisational capacity, many turn to financial support from pharmaceutical companies, which may create conflicts of interests. However, the transparency of the industry’s self-regulatory approach to the disclosure of payments to patient organisations has evaded scrutiny. Using company reports disclosing payments to UK patient organisations in 2012-2016, we evaluate the transparency of reporting using indicators derived from industry’s European patient organisation Code. We found a large proportion of companies did not have any disclosure reports available despite many having made payments, confirmed by comparing with annual financial accounts of patient organisations registered as charities. Where disclosure reports were available, many payments were not adequately described, resulting in large portions of money being disclosed without clarity as to the payment type and purpose. We found companies were clearer regarding whether payments were financial or benefits-in-kind, but transparency was particularly inadequate as to whether it could be determined if payments were indirect or direct and restricted or unrestricted, and almost no companies mentioned the VAT status of payments. Our findings suggest that the industry’s self-regulatory approach to transparency has not been working efficiently. We suggest ways for standardising and increasing the precision of information by pharmaceutical companies and advocate for the introduction of a centralised, and easily accessible national-level payment database. (Less)
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organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
in
Health Policy
publisher
Elsevier
ISSN
0168-8510
DOI
10.1016/j.healthpol.2019.08.007
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
2dbd904e-9ae9-4030-8242-766b2dd5370f
date added to LUP
2019-08-23 13:54:37
date last changed
2019-08-30 07:35:26
@article{2dbd904e-9ae9-4030-8242-766b2dd5370f,
  abstract     = {Patient organisations contribute to many areas of pharmaceutical policy. In developing their organisational capacity, many turn to financial support from pharmaceutical companies, which may create conflicts of interests. However, the transparency of the industry’s self-regulatory approach to the disclosure of payments to patient organisations has evaded scrutiny. Using company reports disclosing payments to UK patient organisations in 2012-2016, we evaluate the transparency of reporting using indicators derived from industry’s European patient organisation Code. We found a large proportion of companies did not have any disclosure reports available despite many having made payments, confirmed by comparing with annual financial accounts of patient organisations registered as charities. Where disclosure reports were available, many payments were not adequately described, resulting in large portions of money being disclosed without clarity as to the payment type and purpose. We found companies were clearer regarding whether payments were financial or benefits-in-kind, but transparency was particularly inadequate as to whether it could be determined if payments were indirect or direct and restricted or unrestricted, and almost no companies mentioned the VAT status of payments. Our findings suggest that the industry’s self-regulatory approach to transparency has not been working efficiently. We suggest ways for standardising and increasing the precision of information by pharmaceutical companies and advocate for the introduction of a centralised, and easily accessible national-level payment database.},
  author       = {Richard, Emily  and Ozieranski, Piotr  and Mulinari, Shai},
  issn         = {0168-8510},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Health Policy},
  title        = {Evaluating the transparency of pharmaceutical company disclosure of payments to patient organisations in the UK},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.healthpol.2019.08.007},
  year         = {2019},
}