The authors of a new study published by JAMA Network Open suggest the NHS should establish a central register of pharmaceutical industry payments to UK healthcare organisations (HCOs).
The cross-sectional study examined non-research payments reported in the industry-run Disclosure UK database in 2015.
The Gini index (GI) was used to measure payment concentration (0 indicates perfect deconcentration, e.g. all drug companies provide the same value of payments; 1, perfect concentration, e.g. one company provides the entire value of payments) and median and interquartile range (IQR) to measure payment patterns.
The data revealed that 4028 HCOs received 19,933 payments from 100 companies in 2015, worth almost £57 million.
Funding was received by 11 categories of HCOs, with three-public-sector secondary and tertiary care providers, education and research providers and professional organisations - accumulating 67.2 per cent of payments. Of four payment categories, the top category - donations and grants - captured 50.6 per cent of funding.
“The distinct patterns of payment values suggest a differentiation of funding strategies according to recipient and payment types. This study’s results suggest a need for the strengthening of industry- and government-run payment disclosure systems,” the authors said.
They point to shortcomings with the Disclosure UK database, which is not compulsory and does not include medical device manufacturers. They suggest that the NHS might consider a central register of all external payments.