Madrid, July 1st 2016.- In 2015, the pharmaceutical industry based in Spain invested around 190 M€ in contracts with healthcare organizations and professionals within R&D projects, as well as it contributed with 119 M€ in grants so that healthcare professionals could attend scientific activities and professional meetings which, besides, counted with the support of 66 M€ from the sector so that they can be organized through healthcare organizations.
These figures are made public today thanks to the European transparency initiative adopted by the companies adhered to the Code of Good Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry in Spain, which between June 27th and 30th have disclosed in their websites the collaboration undertaken in 2015 with healthcare organizations and professionals derived from their collaboration in these fields. Two other concepts add up to the latter: provision of professional services, whereas these are individual or in groups, for a value of 88 M€, and donations, which can only be made to healthcare organizations adding up to 33M€. From now on, the collaborations made the previous year will be disclosed in June.
The interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare professionals and organizations is fundamental for the research of new medicines. This collaboration generates a virtuous win-win circle for all actor involved: professionals, since they update and improve their knowledge base about medicines; industry, which benefits from the scientific and clinical experience of healthcare professionals; the healthcare system, which is improved by professionals with state-of-the-art knowledge and international biomedical research, as well as constant pharmacological improvements, and patients and society, direct receivers of the provision of healthcare services.
From 2002, the European pharmaceutical industry, hence the Spanish one, stands by a Code of Good Practice which regulates the relations between industry and healthcare professionals and organizations aimed at introducing rigor, objectivity and independence within these relations, which in turn avoids unfair competition between companies. This Code has been regularly updated with the incorporation of improvements derived from the practical experience of its application as well as from society’s requirements. The disclosure of their collaborations with professionals and organizations, which are the result of a new amendment of the Code, follows this lead which also intends to generate trust in society about the value of these relations.
Bet on R&D
The investment of the sector in R&D during 2015 maintains its position as the absolute industrial leader in this field in Spain, with 1,004 M€ (+5.4% than in 2014). From these amounts, about 41% (around 410 millions) was destined to extramural research contracts, fundamentally within the public remit (research centers, hospitals, academia and other bodies), which makes the pharmaceutical industry the main driving force of biomedical public-private research in Spain.
190 M€ of the disclosed R&D investments account for around 50% of the total external collaborations and make a reference to collaborations with healthcare professionals organizations associated to the design and execution of preclinical studies, clinical trials and post-authorization studies. The rest of extramural investments, up to 410 M€, include international financing, preclinical research contracts in which no healthcare professionals intervene, supplying free medicines for clinical trials and their monitoring.
According to Farmaindustria’s President, Antoni Esteve, 2015 investment in R&D reflects the important bet that the pharmaceutical industry is making to maintain research excellence in Spain. Besides, “it facilitates that our research centers, academia, hospitals and professionals not only get to know the most important innovations, but they can also make use of these innovation in early phases, which greatly benefits everyone; mostly, patients”.
Commitment with scientific information
On the other hand, the 119 M€ with which the pharmaceutical industry contributes to the scientific and clinical education is a clear proof of the commitment of the sector with Spanish healthcare professionals maintaining their position in the highest levels of scientific knowledge, especially important in healthcare, because of the fast advances in biomedical research and new treatments. Scientific activities and professional congresses and meeting are a key instrument to achieve these objectives and the pharmaceutical industry is committed to making them possible. In 2015 the sector supported, likewise, healthcare organizations for the celebration of this kind of activities with 66 M€.
According to Farmaindustria’s data, more than 70% of scientific activities and professional congresses and meetings for which industry offers grants, either through professionals or organizations, are third-party events organized by renowned and consolidated scientific entities, such as scientific societies, which guarantees the rigor, independence and scientific interest of these activities, which always count with a program designed by independent scientific committees. The work that is being undertaken in this field by societies contributes to Spanish doctors maintaining an excellence level which has been recognized both at national and international levels, while it also allows them to develop a medical activity which is highly valued by citizens.
Almost 95% of grants the pharmaceutical industry provides in Spain to healthcare professionals are offered to physicians. In our country there are 177, 665 physicians undertaking medical activities, according to the Spanish Statistics Institute in 2014, and a great share of them benefit from these scientific activities which are supported by industry.
We should highlight that only the average registration fee to a scientific congress at national level ranks approximately 600-700 €, an amount which can be increased if the meeting has an international scope. Last year, according to Farmaindustria, 43% of the meetings in which the pharmaceutical industry collaborated were of a national nature, whereas regional meetings accounted for 32%, and 25% for international ones.
Congresses are fundamental tools to maintain doctors updated of the advances in their area of expertise, and their importance is so that, for example, last year almost 9,000 professionals attended the national congresses of primary care, 3,400 to cardiology or 1,500 to the one devoted to oncology. In international congresses, figures escalate till reaching, for example, 20,000 gathered last year by the European Oncology Congress (ESMO), and 30,000 in the American Oncology Congress (ASCO). In the case of ESMO, the presence of Spanish oncologists has grown from 2.5% of the total attendants in 2012 to 5% in 2014.
“It is a reason for our sector to be proud to be one of the main facilitators of access to scientific information of all Spanish healthcare professionals”, stressed Farmaindustria’s President. Each one of them –professionals, healthcare organizations, healthcare systems, pharmaceutical industry and, most of all, patients- “benefit from the healthcare professionals’ knowledge and use of the latest advances in their therapeutic areas of expertise, and this is why it is crucial that industry continues with its firm commitment to facilitate the organization and attendance to scientific research and professional congresses”.
Provision of services and donations
The other concepts which the companies adhered to the Code of Good Practice have disclosed during the last days have been the engagement of professionals for the provision of services and donations to healthcare organizations.
In 2015, the pharmaceutical industry hired the professional services, whereas in an individual or grouped manner, for a value of 88 M€. These kinds of services are recognized as advisors or consultants, and their characteristics and requisites are regulated in the Code of Good Practices. These services take different shapes (key note speakers, reports, etc.), but in any case they imply the payment of a retribution and, when appropriate, of travel and accommodation expenses.
These activities allow the pharmaceutical industry to get to know medicines’ performance in clinical practice, a knowledge which only healthcare professionals own. From that point on, companies can improve the safety and efficacy of treatments or detect new needs, which in turn becomes highly beneficial for the treatment of diseases, for the efficiency of the system and, especially, to contribute with solutions to patients.
Lastly, the pharmaceutical industry made donations to healthcare organizations which supply with social or humanitarian medical assistance for a value of 33 M€. These contributions shall respond to petitions from the organizations themselves and are altruistic since, as it is established in the Code of Good Practice, they cannot constitute an incentive for “the recommendation, prescription, purchase, supply, sale or administration of medicines”. This kind of grants go from monetary donations for research projects to academic institutions which then use them from funding scholarships to the donation of medicines to humanitarian organizations.
A pioneering initiative
The disclosure of collaborations between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare professionals and organization is but an additional step though a very relevant one, in the bet that the pharmaceutical industry is making on transparency, linked to the Code of Good Practice and materialized in 2002 with the creation of a modern self regulation system.
Framed within a European wide initiative adopted in 2013 by the European Federation of pharmaceutical industries and associations (EFPIA) – to which Farmaindustria belongs- the disclosure of collaborations is born with the aim of highlighting the value of these relations, which are indispensable for scientific advance. “In this industry, we feel proud of this necessary collaboration with healthcare professionals and organizations and their scientific societies, essential in the orientation as far as education is concerned, and key to guaranteeing the independence of these activities”, stated Farmaindustria’s President. He also remarked that these relations are based in objectivity, rigor and independence, principles for which the Code of Good Practices watches for, adapting itself regularly to the requirements of both medical practice and fair competition.
“The whole of industry and all healthcare professionals want that the value of our collaboration is recognized, and I am convinced that this initiative contributes to this” –highlighted Antoni Esteve-: “it is a pioneering one, has no precedents in other private sectors, plus it is in line with the increasing society’s expectations as far as transparency is concerned. Undoubtedly, this will reinforce the trust of civil society, and especially patients”.