The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which includes the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, recognises the need for increased transparency in relation to Conflicts of Interest in medicine and healthcare. By declaring any conflicts publicly, the Academy has long argued that transparency will be improved and conflicts of interest or apparent conflicts of interest will be reduced. Professor Alan Boyd discusses Disclosure UK.
In June 2016, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) launched 'Disclosure UK', which is a searchable online database of payments and benefits in kind made by the pharmaceutical industry working in partnership with leading UK healthcare professionals (HCPs) and organisations (HCOs) to improve patient care.
This is part of a broader Europe-wide initiative, aimed at bringing greater transparency to industry collaborations with health professionals on the development and delivery of medicine.
The information contained within the database is provided by pharmaceutical companies that follow the ABPI Code of Practice and has the intent to ensure that 100% of UK healthcare professionals who receive a payment or benefit in kind for the work they do with pharmaceutical companies in developing medicines and improving patient treatment, give their consent for their details to be published.
From the Disclosure UK database published last year, it was estimated that only around 55% of the HCPs receiving a payment or benefit in kind from industry in 2015 gave their consent to publish their details in relation to this matter. Details of payments and benefits in kind made during 2016 is being published on Disclosure UK today and I am pleased to see that this figure has risen.
In February 2017, NHS England also issued guidance on 'Managing Conflicts of Interest in the NHS' (1) which came into force on 1 June 2017. It is applicable to the following NHS organisations: Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs),
NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts, which include secondary care trusts, mental health trusts, community trusts, and ambulance trusts and NHS England (through the Standards of Business Conduct). This new NHS Guidance introduces consistent principles and rules for managing conflicts of interest and covers a range of measures, including:
To ensure the increased transparency of Conflicts of Interest, the Academy recommends that all Healthcare Professionals and Organisations do report any Conflicts of Interest on their relevant 'Organisational Register of Interests', as directed under the new NHS England guidelines. In addition, all Healthcare Professionals who receive a payment or benefit in kind should give their consent for their details to be published on the Disclosure UK database2.
By doing this the relevant information about conflicts of interest can be made available to the public and hence to patients.
Professor Alan Boyd BSc MB ChB FRSB PFPM is President of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine at the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom
(1) NHS England. Managing conflicts of interest in the NHS: guidance for staff and organisations. 2017
(2) Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. Disclosure of payments to healthcare professionals. Academy Statement. June 2017.