(NATURAL NEWS)– New data that once again highlights the incestuous relationship between Big Pharma and the medical industry indicate that British doctors were paid some $64 million by drug makers, which was only slightly less than in 2012.
According to Reuters, such industry payments to physicians have increasingly come under scrutiny following several scandals involving drug sales practices, most notably in the United States, as well as concerns that such close ties put commercial interests of drug makers ahead of what is best for patients.
As noted by Reuters:
The figure, announced by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) on Thursday, was slightly down on the 2012 level of 40 million pounds [about $66.9 million].
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Criticism of the tight relationship between healthcare providers — doctors especially — and pharmaceutical companies has led to some companies rethinking their operations. For example, in December, GlaxoSmithKline said it would stop payments to doctors to promote its drugs, but the company will still pay fees for clinical research and advisory work.
Several other firms have also agreed to take limited steps to reduce physician-related marketing practices. That includes AstraZeneca, which announced in 2011 that the pharmaceutical would end payments to doctors for attending international congresses.
Under American healthcare laws, drug companies must now disclose all payments to doctors; in Europe, meanwhile, pharmaceuticals will be required to make public the names of individual physicians they have paid beginning in 2016.
In the interim before the law kicks in, the ABPI has taken to providing aggregate figures based on data from 34 of 40 top drug makers operating in Britain. The trade group said that payments to doctors last year, overall, comprised 27.7 million pounds ($46.3 million) for consultancy services and 10.8 million pounds ($18 million) in sponsorship to attend third-party meetings.