U.K. physicians join up with pharma in doc-payment pledge

Will U.K. drugmakers be the next to shine a light on payments to doctors? A leading physicians group and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry are promising new disclosures. What form those disclosures will take remains to be seen.

As the Financial Times reports, the Royal College of Physicians, the ABPI and 16 other groups endorsed moves to strengthen disclosure, at a time when other countries--including the U.S.--are moving forward with their own payment reporting.

Drugmakers have been opening the books on payments to doctors--including research support, speaking fees, free food and travel--as critics cite concerns that these financial relationships unduly influence doctors' prescribing and academics' publishing. Some of the companies have had no choice; their disclosures were mandated by marketing settlements with the U.S. government.

"Partnership has led to clinical advances, but the world is changing," Royal College of Physicians President Richard Thompson told the FT. "We support transparency." Thompson says payment info should be available to patients and to National Health Service officials, the FT says.

Already, the European pharma association EFPIA has said its members will start disclosing doctor payments in 2016. ABPI members in the U.K. agreed to report some general figures about doctor payments starting this year.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., where payment disclosures were mandated as part of Obamacare, pharma companies are awaiting the necessary regulations. Administration officials have said the so-called Sunshine Act rules will be forthcoming soon; they're already more than 15 months late.

- read the FT story (reg. req.)