Register of payments from pharmaceutical companies to staff

Jonathan Mendel made this Freedom of Information request to University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

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

Waiting for an internal review by University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust of their handling of this request.

Dear University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire 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...

Nelson Linda (RKB) Legal Department Manager,

Dear Dr Mendel

I acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information request received on Monday, 15 April 2013 and can confirm that we are currently considering your request and anticipate getting back to you by 14 May 2013.

Yours sincerely

Linda Nelson
Freedom of Information Officer

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Address: UHCW NHS Trust, Executive suite, 3rd Floor Rotunda, University Hospital, Clifford Bridge Road, Coventry, CV2 2DX

show quoted sections

Nelson Linda (RKB) Legal Department Manager,

4 Attachments

Dear Dr Mendel

 

With reference to your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act, please find our response attached.

 

We also enclose our FOI Feedback Form and would be grateful if you could
complete and return this at your earliest convenience.

 

Many thanks

 

Yours sincerely

 

Linda Nelson

Freedom of Information Officer

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

Clifford Bridge Road

Walsgrave

Coventry

CV2 2DX

 

Tel No:  02476-968813

Fax No: 02476-968786

 

 

DISCLAIMER: This email and any attachments are confidential and may be
privileged or otherwise protected from disclosure.

If you are not the intended recipient you must not copy this message or
any attachment or disclose the contents to any other

person, nor take any action in reliance of its contents: to do so is
strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received

this message in error please accept our apologies and contact us at the
address below or by email at [1][email address]

 

Any files attached to this email will have been checked by us with virus
detection software before transmission. You should

carry out your own virus checks before opening any attachment. UHCW
(University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust)

accepts no liability for any loss or damage which may be caused by
software viruses.

 

Any views or opinions expressed are those of the author and do not
represent the views of the Trust unless explicitly stated.

 

The information contained in this email may be subject to public
disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Unless

the information is legally exempt from disclosure, the confidentiality of
this email and your reply cannot be guaranteed.

 

Address: UHCW NHS Trust, Executive suite, 3rd Floor Rotunda, University
Hospital, Clifford Bridge Road, Coventry, CV2 2DX

 

References

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Jonathan Mendel

Dear University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire 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...