Drugmakers to open their doc-payment books in Europe

Here's another task for pharma database builders. A new European ethics code requires drugmakers to disclose payments to doctors by 2016. The rules join a new sunshine mandate in the U.S. and disclosure promises in the U.K. and Australia.

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) has made it official: Its members will be required to unveil payments made in 2015 by 2016. The disclosures apply to doctors and to associations.

"This is an important step for our industry, as we demonstrate our commitment to transparency and secure the trust of the patients our industry serves," Richard Bergström, EFPIA's director general, said in a statement. He said that "by making this a success, we can improve the relationship between industry, healthcare organizations and healthcare providers" in a way that ultimately benefits patients.

Apparently, the calls for transparency on pharma's relationships with doctors are going global. Growing concerns about pharma's payments to doctors--including junkets, lavish meals and even logo-laden scratch pads and pens--have prompted new policies at medical schools and teaching hospitals, plus new laws at the state and federal levels.

Massachusetts banned gifts of all kinds (though the ban has since been softened a bit). Vermont passed its own payment-sunshine law in 2002, years before the national measure won approval as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Most of the Big Pharma companies began posting their U.S. numbers a few years ago, some compelled by marketing settlements with the Department of Justice. In the U.K., the Royal College of Physicians, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and 16 other groups pledged in January to open their books on doctor payments. And late last year, Australia's competition watchdog gave the industry two years to disclose doctor payments and group sponsorships.

- see the EFPIA statement
- get more from Bloomberg