Bill requires doctors to declare payments from drug firms

Fianna Fáil proposal would allow public to search online register of payments to doctors

 Minister for Health Simon Harris  ordered a review  last year after claims up to one-third of senior HSE clinicians are in receipt of money from the pharma industry. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Health Simon Harris ordered a review last year after claims up to one-third of senior HSE clinicians are in receipt of money from the pharma industry. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Doctors would be required to declare any payments or gifts they receive from drug companies under draft legislation published by Fianna Fáil.

Members of the public would be able to search an online register of payments made by medical suppliers or pharmaceutical companies to doctors, the newly published Medical Practitioners (Amendment) Bill proposes.

Under the proposed legislation, the Medical Council would maintain the register, to be published annually online in a searchable form. Any payments or gifts with a value of more than €600 would have to be declared.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals were paid €6.8 million by pharmaceutical companies in Ireland last year, according to the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA). Companies gave a further €10.7 million to healthcare organisations and €9.7 million for research and development.

Opt-out clause

IPHA gathers information annually on payments or so-called “transfers of value” by its members companies to doctors but an opt-out clause means many of the recipients are not identified.

Minister for Health Simon Harris ordered a review late last year after claims up to one-third of senior HSE clinicians are in receipt of money from the pharma industry. It has also emerged that the industry funds posts in many hospitals.

The Health Service Executive responded to the Minister by saying it does not know whether any of its senior staff have received direct payments from pharmaceutical companies.

The HSE investigation failed to establish whether any payments were made and found uncertainty as to whether existing rules were being followed.