The continuing challenges of pharma’s new-found transparency

You can’t please everyone!…so goes the idiom.


It’s an age-old problem, and one that has for a long time been a sticking point for pharma in the push towards payment transparency. But it seems there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel.

On both sides of the Atlantic, regulation is now in-place that will finally help silence long-standing criticism of the opaque nature of the payments made between pharma and the medical community, whilst balancing the associated issues of privacy law and anti-bribery legislation.

Whilst the United States was seen to lead the way with the introduction of the Sunshine Act in 2010, the implementation has been relatively slow-paced, and it will only be in September of this year that the first data on payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals, must be made publicly available on a searchable federal database.

This delay has given Europe the opportunity to catch-up. In its updated code of practice, which came into force on 1st January of this year, EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) has set-out the requirement for all members to disclose all ‘transfers of value’ in 2016, starting with transfers made in the prior year.

The UK is spearheading this initiative, with the publication of aggregate numbers for payments made by member companies to healthcare professionals in 2012, for activities including attendance at medical education events, speaker engagements and participation in advisory boards. The next stage will be a move to the publication of far more detailed data, declaring individually-named healthcare professionals on a single, publicly searchable, central database.

This move towards greater payment transparency has been a truly gargantuan task, and has taken many years to take its final form. The question is, despite all the good intentions on which these regulations have been built, will this prove to be a turning point for pharma that helps repair a damaged reputation and build trust with the public? Or will the scale and scope of collaboration and the associated payments, just serve to stoke the fire? TogoRun will be keeping a close eye on the situation as it unfolds!