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Scottish petition for register of payments to healthcare professionals gains wide support

A petition to the Scottish Parliament to introduce a searchable register of payments to healthcare professionals from commercial organisations has gained widespread support.

The petition called for the introduction of a “Sunshine Act” for Scotland, so-called after similar legislation in the US and France. It is expected to be considered by the Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee next week (28 January).

In its response to a consultation on the petition, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society says: “In principle, we support the establishment of a register and increased transparency.” But it warns: “If the concept of a Sunshine Act for Scotland is to be taken forward, it is important that duplication of effort is avoided and bureaucracy minimised. We would expect a streamlined approach to transparency, so that data entry would only be required once and would cover European and global interests. For Scotland to have a stand-alone database in a global economy would not be sensible.”

The RPS also notes that collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry is necessary to drive innovation. “It is important that the public understands the necessity and benefits of some types of payments and has confidence in the integrity of a system which strives to continually advance and enhance patient care,” it states.

Community Pharmacy Scotland also supports the principle of financial transactions being declared on a database but says in its response: “At this time, it is not clear to us how we then translate from the information in that database to deliver benefits for patients.”

In its response, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry highlights two recent developments. First, a new disclosure code created by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) which requires EFPIA member companies to disclose certain types of payments to healthcare professionals. “The UK is in a strong position to develop a collaborative model for disclosures to meet EFPIA requirements in 2016 and to meet the high expectations of stakeholders, along the lines of [the petitioner’s] recommendation for a central register for payments,” the ABPI states.

The second development that both the RPS and the ABPI highlight is a consultation conducted by the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group which found that 79 per cent of health professionals support the idea of a searchable database of payments. “The overwhelmingly positive response to the consultation provides a clear mandate to take the idea forward for a central platform for disclosures,” the ABPI adds.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11133150

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