Register of payments from pharmaceutical companies to staff

Peter J Gordon made this Freedom of Information request to Greater Glasgow NHS Board

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.

Peter J Gordon

8 May 2013

Dear Greater Glasgow NHS Board,

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 Peter J. Gordon

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

Peter J Gordon

Modified letter:

Dear Greater Glasgow NHS Board,
Hospital Boards 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 Board - 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 Board does not have a complete register, I would request: the release of the information on this topic that the Board does hold; and an explanation of why the Board 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 Peter J. Gordon

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

FOI BOARD HQ, Greater Glasgow NHS Board

Dear Mr Gordon

Thank you for your email of 8 May 2013 requesting information as described below.

We are dealing with this under our procedures for handling requests made under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and a response will be issued to you as soon as possible or within 20 working days, as provided for under the Act.

If you have any queries regarding the progress of your request I can be contacted at the details below.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Watt
Secretariat Department
Telephone: 0141 201 4434

show quoted sections

Watt, Elizabeth, Greater Glasgow NHS Board

6 Attachments

Dear Mr Gordon

 

Thank you for your request for information received on 8 May 2013 by NHS
Greater Glasgow and Clyde relating to register of payments from
pharmaceutical companies to staff as described in your email below.

 

We are treating your request under our procedures for responding to
requests for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
2002.  

 

I can confirm that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde holds information as
described by you.   

 

As a general principle where decisions are being taken about medicines
that could be influenced by a personal or non-personal interest then
declarations of interest are made and appropriate action taken in terms of
non-participation or actual participation in the discussions, however, the
information is not necessarily routinely collated.  Individual staff
members are expected to record such information in the on-line register. 
The medicines advisory structures tend to have a more formal collation of
interests from members:

 

-    Members of the medicines advisory structures complete a standard
declaration of interest proforma.

-    At each meeting those attending are required to declare interests
when relevant to agenda items.

-    Participants in Clinical Guideline Development Groups make a
declaration of interest, noted on the documentation, but not routinely
collated.

-    Applicants and panel members for each Individual Patient Treatment
Request make declaration of interest.

 

I am able to provide the information you have requested and the following
is attached:-

 

Icon 1  - Extract from NHSGGC Code of Conduct for Staff on-line register

Icon 2 -  Sample of declaration of interest proforma  

Icon 3 - Area Drugs and Therapeutics Committee and Associated 
Sub-Committees [Some declarations have still to be received]

Icon 4 - Pharmacy and Prescribing Support Unit Executive Group

Icon 5 - FOI requirement for review

Icon 6 - Review Form.

 

I hope that this information is helpful.   If you are not satisfied with
our response to your request, you have a right to request a review of this
decision within 40 working days of receiving this response.  The procedure
for consideration of a review is detailed in the attached note.  The note
also describes your right to pursue the matter with the Scottish
Information Commissioner if, following a request for review, you remain
dissatisfied with the decision of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.  If
following appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner you still remain
dissatisfied with the outcome, you have a right of appeal to the Court of
Session on a point of law against the decision of the Scottish Information
Commissioner.

 

If you wish us to review this decision, please complete the form enclosed
and return it to the Head of Board Administration, NHS Greater Glasgow and
Clyde, Corporate HQ, JB Russell House, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, 1055
Great Western Road, Glasgow  G12 0XH. 

 

Should you require any clarification about this response or the right to
request a review please contact me at the details below.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Elizabeth Watt

Secretariat Department

J B Russell House

Gartnavel Royal Hospital

Telephone:  0141 201 4434

 

 

show quoted sections