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Working together for patients: grants and donations

Andy High Res

Collaboration between industry, health professionals and healthcare organisations benefits patients. It is a relationship that has delivered numerous innovative medicines and changed the way many diseases impact on our lives. Industry and health professionals 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. Over the coming weeks we will be looking at the types of activity undertaken between the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare professionals and healthcare organisations. This blog will look at grants and donations, which can only be given to organisations, rather than individuals.

What is a grant?

There are two main types of grant provided to healthcare organisations by the pharmaceutical industry. These are educational grants and research grants.

An Educational Grant is funding provided by a company to an HCO to support a bona fide, independent educational program, such as medical science or public health policy. The primary purpose of the support is the provision of a legitimate educational programme. It should not be used as an opportunity to promote products, brands or business, and must not constitute an inducement to recommend, prescribe, purchase, supply, sell or administer specific medicinal products. Some examples of activities for which an educational grant may be provided are:

  • Funding to an organisation to support an independent medical education programme
  • Funding to an organisation to support an individual fellowship
  • Funding a hospital’s collective subscription to a medical journal

Research Grants can take the form of funding, products, or other support offered by companies to third party entities or organisations for the purpose of the advancement of medical or scientific knowledge. Research grants include funding for data collection, collaborative studies in disease areas or the impact of virus surveillance practices, among many others.

What is a donation?

Companies also may provide charitable contributions and business donations for the provision of funding, equipment, or free products to a third party entity, to support public interest activities.

Charitable contributions are made to not-for-profit, charitable organisations.

The purpose of this type of funding is usually to improve the quality and availability of healthcare, to educate individuals and families about sound health practices in order to empower them to improve their own health, to serve those most at risk of health problems, or to advance knowledge in medicine, healthcare and allied sciences and science education.

Examples of charitable contributions:

  • Medical equipment to a charity providing community medical services
  • Free products, where permitted, to a charity providing disaster relief

The objectives of donations and grants (in cash or in kind or otherwise) given by pharmaceutical companies to healthcare or research institutions, organisations or associations must be the support of healthcare or research and must be documented and kept on record by the donor/grantor.

A new era of transparency

In June 2016, companies will begin disclosing publicly payments made to health professionals for activities such as Advisory Boards, speaking at meetings, consultancy, travel and accommodation. The payments made to healthcare organisations as grants and donations will be disclosed in the category Donations and Grants to HCOs. All financial, non-financial and/or significant indirect support offered by pharmaceutical companies to and accepted by patients’ organisations have been publicly disclosed since 2013. Bringing greater transparency to this, already well-regulated, vital relationship is about strengthening the basis for collaboration in the future. Industry is being proactive, based on its commitment to this relationship.

For more information on disclosure of payments to health professionals, you can visit


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