Across Europe, by the end of June 2016, EFPIA member companies will disclose payments made to health professionals, such as sponsorship to attend meetings, speaker fees, consultancy and advisory boards.
There is no doubt that this is a transformational step in the relationship between industry and the health professionals we work with. With the first round of disclosures just a few months away I have been thinking about what the relationship will look like after disclosure.
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. Bringing greater transparency to this, already well-regulated, vital relationship is about strengthening the basis for collaboration in the future. EFPIA members are being proactive on transparency, based on their commitment to this relationship.
Experience from the US and other markets where disclosure provisions are already in place has shown that the first disclosures do attract some media attention. Inevitably journalists look for the sensational and out of ordinary. But the reality is that this is well-regulated relationship, it underpins many aspects of medicine development and their use in the patient pathway. In any sphere of work, professionals should be paid for their time and expertise; healthcare is no different. We want European clinicians to have the opportunity to stay at the forefront of clinical practice and have a real say in the direction of clinical research. Learning from our experience, we know that after the initial spike of media interest, industry and health professionals can remain focused on improving patient outcomes, safe in the knowledge that collaborations are built on openness and transparency.
Unfortunately, why and how industry and health professionals work together is not well understood in sections of the media and I would challenge industry and health professional colleagues to come together over the coming months to ensure that the benefits to patients, to clinicians, to healthcare systems and to the life sciences industry are well understood.
This is a time of change, the relationship between the companies that research and develop new medicines and the professionals that prescribe them will be subject to some of the most comprehensive transparency provisions of any sector. But we operate in a unique space; commercial organisations collaborating with publicly funded employees with a daily impact on the health of European citizens. Quite rightly, society has increasingly high expectations for transparency, none more so than in healthcare. This is a vital relationship and we want to ensure we meet those expectations going forward, securing the basis for collaboration in the future.3