An investigation by the BMJ has revealed that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England have accepted hundreds of payments from drug companies that have not been publicly disclosed.
Publicly declared payments include tickets to top sports matches and a Beyoncé concert. But only two-thirds of 4600 payments, and a quarter of the value, that CCGs accepted from private funders in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 were listed in public registers or declarations.
The total monetary value of payments identified in CCGs' publicly available registers covering either the calendar years 2015 and 2016 or the tax years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, was £1.3 million. However, more than £5 million in payments over the same period was reported in response to a Freedom of Information request by the BMJ.
The findings also show that a large number of payments went to a handful of organisations, with 9 CCGs accounting for half the number of payments received. The top 5 ranking CCGs with the highest number of payments received from the pharma industry were Sheffield, Waltham Forest, Swale, Coventry and Rugby, and North East Essex.
Almost three-quarters (73%) of the funding from drug companies was for sponsorship of education and training events. CCGs have also sought funding from drug companies to support internal meetings. After event sponsorship the largest proportion of funding from drug companies to CCGs was for projects, accounting for 19% of the total funding received.
After being alerted to the omission of information about industry funding on their websites, some CCGs have either published this information or committed themselves to doing so. Other plan to continue or expand current sponsorship arrangements. Around a quarter of CCGs received no payments from charities or private companies in 2015 and 2016, and many have policies against accepting such payments.