Register of payments from pharmaceutical companies to staff

The request was successful.

Peter J Gordon

8 May 2013

Dear Highland 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 Highland 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...

FOIRequestsHighland (NHS HIGHLAND), Highland NHS Board

Dear Dr Gordon

Thank you for your FOI request.

I will seek the information you request and respond as soon as I receive it.

This will be within the 20 working days target specified by the Freedom of Information ( Scotland) Act 2002.

Please note if you have any further queries regarding this FOI please email at [NHS Highland request email] quoting the above reference.

Yours sincerely

Christina

Christina MacDonald
PA to Maimie Thompson/FOI Administrator
Public Relations & Engagement
NHS Highland Assynt House, Beechwood Park, Inverness IV2 3BW

Telephone:01463 704927 | Email: [email address]

I work Mon - Thurs

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Oliver Kenny (NHS HIGHLAND), Highland NHS Board

Dear Dr Gordon

 

In response to your FOI request of 8^th May, I would be grateful if you
could confirm the time scales you are looking for in respect of the
registers of interests?

 

Thanks

 

Kenny Oliver

NHS Highland

 

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17 May 2013.

Dear Oliver Kenny (NHS HIGHLAND),
Last three years would cover what has been supplied by other NHS Boards.

Most grateful for your help

Yours sincerely,

Peter J Gordon

Oliver Kenny (NHS HIGHLAND), Highland NHS Board

4 Attachments

Dear Dr Gordon

 

Please find attached a copy of our response to your recent Freedom of
Information request.

 

Please feel free to contact us again should you require any further
information

 

Thanks

 

Kenny Oliver

NHS Highland

 

 

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Dear Oliver Kenny (NHS HIGHLAND),

Many thanks indeed.

Yours sincerely,

Peter J Gordon

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