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How Much Your Doctor Was Paid To Treat You

How Much Your Doctor Was Paid To Treat You


There is a concern amongst patients that we should not sue the NHS for harm caused negligently. When a recommended drug, treatment or device goes wrong there is a reluctance for patients to allege fault with their doctor. So many consent cases hinge on what was discussed about risks and complications prior to the treatment taking place. Many patients feel that if a risk or complication materialises then it is just plain back luck and the doctor was simply trying to do his or her best.

Would your opinion differ if you were later informed that your doctor was paid by the pharmaceutical company to use their product over an alternative? Do you know how much your Doctor was paid to treat you?

Pharmaceutical firms currently pay about £40m every year to healthcare professionals, including doctors and pharmacists. These payments range from gifts, payments, obtaining expert advice to sponsoring a healthcare professional’s medical education. Should we be concerned that patient choice and discussion on risks and complications is tainted by the relationship a doctor has with a pharmaceutical company?


If the pharmaceutical company provides free drugs for use in trials, how can a patient know that they are being recommended this line of treatment because it is genuinely the best treatment for them? There is no guarantee that results from trials will be published no matter what they show. Many companies only wish to publish results which are beneficial to their brand whilst burying results which show adverse outcomes.

Patients need to be informed when drug companies pay for independent pharmacists to go into GP surgeries, audit patient notes and make recommendations for treatment. Pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers have a very bad reputation, such as De Puy metal on metal hip or PIP breast implants sold to the NHS for cancer patients. There is no doubt that it earned it. They failed to act in the interests of patients or for the best interests of care.

Transparency needed

Greater transparency is needed and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has created a central database for its member companies, and others that have signed up to comply with the ABPI Code of Practice. Going live in June this disclose who payments are made to, and for what. Many feel that it fails to go far enough.

Jeremy Hunt has gone further with his ‘Sunshine Rule’ which will make it mandatory for NHS staff to declare gifts received from drug companies. The aim was to stamp out bribery. The decision was made after a recent Telegraph investigation which found “disturbing evidence of senior NHS directors getting thousands of pounds and taken on expensive trips by firms lobbying to get their drugs used,” according to the paper. The investigation found that some NHS staff and professionals were making decisions on which treatments to use after being “influenced by extravagant hospitality”.

However, only 69% of healthcare professionals say they would agree to have their relationships with pharmaceutical companies disclosed on a publicly searchable database. This has to be a worry for patients. Without transparency how can a patient know if treatment was right for them in the first place, rather than right for the pharmaceutical company?

So have a right to know how much your doctor was paid to treat you and what those payments mean for patient choice.


if you have been affected by clinical negligence contact Dr Handley today by emailing or calling Freephone 0800 470 2009







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