European campaign to highlight new disclosure rules

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical industries and Associations (EFPIA) has recently launched a public campaign to raise awareness of the latest disclosure requirements for the pharmaceutical industry, which will mean disclosure of all individual payments to healthcare providers and organisations made in 2015 by the following year.

The campaign has been designed to target all those who will be affected by the new rules and one of its key aims is to highlight best practices across Europe for data collection and disclosure. Over the last six months, EFPIA member associations throughout Europe have been busily incorporating disclosure requirements into their local codes and pharmaceutical companies are working towards ensuring they have systems in place to capture and store data for future disclosure.

Four major European pharmaceutical companies have achieved this by implementing BMI SYSTEM’s NAYA software solution, which will ensure they are up to speed with their national and EFPIA regulations. According to Stéphanie Viaud, Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Manager, UCB Pharma, “The use of BMI SYSTEM’s NAYA software has allowed the data to be centralised and has also simplified the tracking, approval and control of interactions with HCPs so that individual disclosure can be accomplished.

The pharmaceutical companies benefit from a system that is able to deal with large volumes of data, but which can also allow for daily arbitration of each transfer of value. According to Stéphanie Viaud, the NAYA system has played a critical part in the company becoming compliant with local French regulation, “Without the NAYA system in place, UCB France would not be able to respect the deadlines required by the French Bertrand Law on transparency and public disclosure. Furthermore, the company would have to invest a lot more resources into the collection, aggregation and review of data for disclosure.


Transparency in the UK steps up a gear

Back in the UK, transparency is also top of the agenda as the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) releases the latest industry figures on total aggregate spend. According to the new aggregate figures, payments from the pharmaceutical industry to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals is estimated to be around £38.5m for payments made in 2013. The 38.5m total can be broken down into consultancy services (£27.7m) and sponsorship to attend third party meetings (£10.8m). The figures, which are based on information from 34 out of the top 40 companies based on UK sales in 2013, are slightly lower than for the same period in 2012, which was around £40m.

The ABPI is also leading on the development of a searchable, centrally-hosted register that by 2016 will record payments from industry to individual healthcare professionals. On the 2nd of April, the APBI hosted a roundtable discussion with key representatives from the royal medical colleges and other healthcare professional bodies to discuss the next steps on how to develop this register. It is hoped the collaboration will ensure that a robust system is set up which, according to Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive at ABPI, provides “…a single user-friendly platform that is transparent and accessible.”

The increasing number of reports of poor practice by pharmaceutical companies in their relationships with healthcare providers is placing more pressure on the industry to improve transparency and ensure that, ultimately, it is the patient who is getting the best deal. As we move towards individual disclosure over the next two years, experts are predicting a shift in the behaviour between pharmaceutical companies and doctors, with direct marketing to the patient becoming more widespread. In order to not jump from the frying pan into the fire, it is important therefore that alongside transparency campaigns, industry associations provide strict rules to ensure that advertising to patients remains accurate and objective.

For more information on EFPIA’s public campaign: visit EFPIA website


The author

Ruth KnowlesRuth Knowles is a freelance science writer who has written articles and press releases on a range of life science and health topics. She received her MSc in Science Communication from the University of the West of England, Bristol.