FOIA request: Register of payments from pharmaceutical companies to staff

Jonathan Mendel made this Freedom of Information request to Wye Valley NHS Trust

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Wye Valley NHS Trust,

Hospital trusts are reportedly meant to keep a register of payments from pharmaceutical companies (and other relevant companies) to staff, in case of conflicts of interest [1]. I am requesting a copy of the register for this Trust - which I would hope includes details of all relevant payments to staff and any related potential conflicts of interest. If it would be possible to have this information in an appropriate structured data format - for example, a CSV file - this would be helpful. If this Trust does not have a complete register, I would request: the release of the information on this topic that the Trust does hold; and an explanation of why the Trust does not hold a complete register.

I am aware that some would view data on pharmaceutical funding as personal data for those staff receiving the funding. Even if some of the information on this register may be classed as personal data (although this is contestable - for example, in some sectors of academia information re funding sources is made public as a matter of course) it would be covered by paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act. The release of these data is "necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed" [2]. Spurling et al's systematic review of how information from pharmaceutical companies impacts physicians' prescribing reported that, of the studies included which looked at total promotional investment, three "found that total promotional investment was positively associated with prescribing frequency...Two...found both positive results and no association...One study did not detect an association" [3]. There is thus a legitimate interest in releasing this register: the available research suggests that it is plausible that payments received influence how public money is spent and the type of care provided to members of the public.

For the reasons given above, there is a strong public interest in releasing this information. While "requests for the personal data of a third party are exempt under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act...if disclosure would contravene section 10 of the Data Protection Act, the right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress" [2], I would argue that, even if some of those named in these documents feel that their release would cause them damage or distress, this is outweighed by the significant public interest served by releasing these data.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr Jonathan Mendel

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/a...
[2] http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/info...
[3] http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info...

Clark, Susan, Wye Valley NHS Trust

2 Attachments

WYE VALLEY NHS TRUST
Trust Headquarters
County Hospital
Union Walk
Hereford
HR1 2ER
Tel: 01432 364000
Fax: 01432 365410

Email: [Wye Valley NHS Trust request email]

28th May 2013

Dear Sir

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST

I apologise for the length of time it has taken to respond to your request for information your request I am directed to inform you that the Declarations of Interest recorded are attached to this email.
If you have any queries or concerns then please contact me, contact details are given at the top of the letter.

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 745 www.ico.gov.uk

Yours faithfully

S. Clark
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CO-ORDINATOR
Wye Valley NHS Trust

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Jonathan Mendel

Dear Wye Valley NHS Trust,

Thanks for your response to my FOI request. Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of the Trust's handling of my FOI request 'Register of payments from pharmaceutical companies to staff'.

Staff names are absent from the information released. Even if staff names may be classed as personal data (as defined by the Data Protection Act) they would be covered by paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act. The release of these data is "necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed" [1]. Spurling et al's systematic review of how information from pharmaceutical companies impacts physicians' prescribing reported that, of the studies included which looked at total promotional investment, three "found that total promotional investment was positively associated with prescribing frequency...Two...found both positive results and no association...One study did not detect an association" [2]. There is thus a legitimate interest in releasing this register: the available research suggests that it is plausible that payments received influence how substantial amounts of public money is spent and the type of care provided to members of the public. Making these data public will open up further opportunities for academic and journalistic research on the impacts of payments and hospitality. It is important to include the names of those declaring interests: among other benefits, this will allow more effective scrutiny of Conflicts of Interest and could allow more extensive analysis: for example, it has been suggested that one could compare declarations on these registers with Conflict of Interest statements on open access pubmed papers.

For the reasons given above, there is a strong public interest in releasing these data in full. While "requests for the personal data of a third party are exempt under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act...if disclosure would contravene section 10 of the Data Protection Act, the right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress" [1] I would argue that, even if some of those named in these documents feel that their release would cause them damage or distress, this is outweighed by the significant public interest served by releasing these data.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr Jonathan Mendel

[1]
http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/info...
[2]
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info...

Clark, Susan, Wye Valley NHS Trust

Dear Sir

Thank you for your email.

Please be assured an internal review into the handling of your FOI request regarding, 'Register of payments from pharmaceutical companies to staff' has been commenced by Ms Nicola Licence, Company Secretary.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact Ms Nicola Licence, Wye Valley NHS Trust, County Hospital, Hereford HR1 2ER Tel: 01432 364000 email: [email address]

Yours faithfully

S. Clark
Freedom of Information Co-ordinator
Wye Valley NHS Trust

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Clark, Susan, Wye Valley NHS Trust

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review Fredom of Information 3256.zip

    60K Download

Dear Sir

I attach correspondence concerning your request for an Internal Review reference Freedom of Information Request 3256 from Wye Valley NHS Trust.

Sue Clark
Freedom of Information Coordinator
Wye Valley NHS Trust

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