The pharmaceutical industry has historically been protective of financial information. But despite disclosure concerns and competitive disadvantages, the pharmaceutical industry has been discussing a central registry for financial transactions, as stated in Stephen Whitehead’s open letter to the General Medical Council. Whitehead is an executive with the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry, and he believes that building industry relationships and fostering goodwill by sharing information will eventually help drive sales and other benefits.
Whitehead’s letter, which responded to an open letter from prominent physicians and medical academics, stated that, “Collaborative working between healthcare professionals and commercial organizations across the life sciences sector has long been a positive driver for advancements in patient care and the progression of modern medicine… The overwhelming majority of respondents, including representatives of the leading healthcare professional bodies and over 1,000 individual healthcare professionals agreed that payments should be transparent and publicly declared and that healthcare professionals should have a role to play in making this happen.”
As Whitehead states, financial disclosure could lead to new advances in patient technology and drug development that would ultimately benefit patients. Further, this would act as a transparency measure that could help the industry to self-regulate on a number of issues, including speaking fees that medical professionals receive. While it is very early in the process, patients can eventually expect to receive benefits from a central registry—namely in the form of better care.