Later this month we will be at the European Cancer Congress 2015 talking about why, from early 2016, the pharmaceutical industry in Europe will begin disclosing payments made to health professionals for activities. They include consultancy, attending advisory boards, speaking at educational meetings, travel, accommodation and registration for congresses etc.
As well as speaking at a plenary session, we will be hosting a stand where anyone can come and see us, find out more, and ask any questions they might have. With a myriad of delegates from all over Europe, we are looking forward to some lively discussion and debate. No doubt many will want to know the rationale behind this significant step, why now and what form will the disclosures take?
Collaboration between industry and health professionals benefits patients. It is a relationship that has delivered numerous innovative medicines and changed the way many diseases impact on our lives. They collaborate in a range of activities, from clinical research to sharing best clinical practice and exchanging information on how new medicines fit into the patient pathway.
Bringing greater transparency to this, already well-regulated, vital relationship is essential to strengthen the basis for collaboration in the future.
If I think of my own family’s healthcare – I am pretty keen that the health professionals involved in our care have regular access to the latest training and information on new treatments and innovative clinical practice. It certainly would be comforting to know their expertise was such that other clinicians or healthcare companies were keen to benefit from their experience. I wouldn’t expect them to work extra hours and time for free.
Why public disclosure?
Most commentators would recognise that society has increasingly high expectations for transparency, nowhere more so than in healthcare. From an industry perspective we want to ensure that we meet those expectations now and in the future.
I am sure some will wonder why this relationship needs public disclosure when other professions are not required to disclose their commercial relationships?
The truth is healthcare is a unique sphere. The medicines we develop and the clinicians that prescribe and administer them are all part of the patient journey. The combination of clinician and medicine plays a critical role in how people feel, even how long they live, so this relationship is unique. Against this backdrop, ensuring that the basis on which these relationships are established is transparent is important. Important for society, and important for patients so they can continue to have confidence in the relationship between the people that research and develop their medicines, and the people that prescribe and administer them.
So if you are going to ECCO 2015, please come and see us, we would love to hear your views. If not, you can find more information on the disclosure of health professionals at www.efpia.eu/disclosure or you can find more information on social media by following #pharmadisclosure.3