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Facing controversy over the benefits granted to HCPs by pharmaceutical companies, ten pharma companies based in Canada have agreed to disclose the amounts paid annually to healthcare professionals and organizations.

They have, on their own initiative, developed a program for improving transparency in relationships between the industry and HCPs and HCOs. More broadly, the program aims to help neutralize conflicts of interest.

GSK takes the lead

The money dispensed from pharmaceutical companies to healthcare professionals has always been subject to criticism and concerns. This is true for meeting interventions, participation in clusters of recommendation or consultancy. Obviously, these financial relationships may influence prescribing habits. Similarly, industry-related specialists can have influence on other healthcare professionals.

Launched by GlaxoSmithKline, this program is designed to improve transparency and is seconded by AbbVie, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Roche and Purdue. According to Paul Lirette, President of GSK Canada, developing trust is fundamental and transparency is the best way to get there; the approach meets public expectations.

This program was approved by Innovative Medicines Canada. Forty other members, including Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Bayer and Sanofi, are ready to join the first participants.

Disclosure of global amounts

For starters, the ten pharma companies have planned to publish next year key figures on all payments to healthcare professionals. But some researchers are questioning the efficiency of such an approach – the disclosure of overall results without specifying to whom – to achieve transparency.

In contrast, it is recalled that the US “Sunshine Act” established a nominative disclosure of all transfers of value to HCPs and HCOs available on the internet. Researchers like Sergio Sismondo, a professor at the University of Queens who studies relationships between pharma companies and healthcare professionals, and Joel Lexchin, an emergency doctor in Toronto and professor of health law, called on the Canadian government to follow the American example and the nominative disclosure system.

Three kinds of information to disclose

For now, it is expected that Canadian pharma companies disclose information in three areas:

  • Benefits for consultancy services, holding conferences and other services
  • Retribution for travel for international duties
  • Subsidies provided to healthcare authorities.

According to Edward Gudaitis, CEO of Gilead Canada, by helping healthcare professionals to keep abreast of medical advances, such relationships are good for public health. Also according to the executive, the program designed by the ten pharma companies is a step towards a significant level of integrity and comfort for the public, in line with the expectations of modern society.

 

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Benefits in the US

  • $ 6.45 billion: payments made by pharmaceutical companies to HCPs and HCOs, including money for research.
  • More than 600 000 HCPs, two-thirds of the total, received amounts ranging from a few dollars to several millions.

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Claire Reuillon

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