Objectives: To analyse the section of Disclosure UK that pertains to healthcare professionals (HCPs) in order to provide insight into the database’s structure and content and suggest ways to improve its transparency.
Design and participants; Cohort study of drug companies and HCPs in the 2015 and 2016 versions of Disclosure UK.
Results: Companies report transfers of value (ToVs) to named HCPs or, where an HCP declines to consent, in aggregate. Only a limited number of variables describe the recipient HCP and the ToV, precluding refined analyses. In 2015, 107 companies reported 54 910 ToVs worth ₤50 967 728. In 2016, 109 companies reported ToVs but spending decreased by 7.3%. The spending was concentrated: the top 10 spenders reported about 50% of the total value, with consultancy-related payments comprising over 70%, and the rest being costs for events. In 2015, 55.5% (30 478) of ToVs worth ₤24 428 619 (47.9%) were disclosed at the individual HCP level, increasing to 64.5% (32 407) and ₤28 145 091 (59.2%) in 2016. Despite increased individual-level disclosure in 2016, the median number of ToVs reported by each company at the individual level was only 57.7%, with 25% of companies reporting less than 38.6%. We found little agreement (62%–48% in 2015 and 46%–30% in 2016) between HCP consent rates that we calculated based on information in the database and those provided by companies.
Conclusions; Key deficiencies in Disclosure UK include: insufficient information on payments and recipients, a relatively low HCP consent rate for individual-level disclosure, differences in consent rates across companies and payment types, and reporting ambiguities or inconsistencies. We employ these findings to develop recommendations for improving transparency, including an easily interpretable consent rate statistic that allows for comparison across years, firms and countries. If deficiencies remain unresolved, the UK should consider introducing legislation requiring mandatory disclosure to allow for adequate tracking of industry payments.
- Social Sciences Interdisciplinary