Evaluating the transparency of pharmaceutical company disclosure of payments to patient organisations in the UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Patient organisations contribute to many areas of pharmaceutical policy. In developing their organisational capacity, many turn to financial support from pharmaceutical companies, which may create conflicts of interests. However, the transparency of the industry’s self-regulatory approach to the disclosure of payments to patient organisations has evaded scrutiny. Using company reports disclosing payments to UK patient organisations in 2012-2016, we evaluate the transparency of reporting using indicators derived from industry’s European patient organisation Code. We found a large proportion of companies did not have any disclosure reports available despite many having made payments, confirmed by comparing with annual financial accounts of patient organisations registered as charities. Where disclosure reports were available, many payments were not adequately described, resulting in large portions of money being disclosed without clarity as to the payment type and purpose. We found companies were clearer regarding whether payments were financial or benefits-in-kind, but transparency was particularly inadequate as to whether it could be determined if payments were indirect or direct and restricted or unrestricted, and almost no companies mentioned the VAT status of payments. Our findings suggest that the industry’s self-regulatory approach to transparency has not been working efficiently. We suggest ways for standardising and increasing the precision of information by pharmaceutical companies and advocate for the introduction of a centralised, and easily accessible national-level payment database.


External organisations
  • University of Bath
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Policy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Aug 22
Publication categoryResearch

Related research output

Ozieranski, P., Richard, E. & Shai Mulinari, 2019 May 23, In : B M J: British Medical Journal. 365, l1806 .

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

View all (1)

Related projects

Shai Mulinari, Piotr Ozieranski & Lawrence King

Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (Forte)

2017/01/01 → …

Project: Research

View all (1)