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Background Info

In January 2013 I wrote to the Scottish Government seeking clarification of regulations in this area. I received a reply which directed me to A Common Understanding 2012 – Working Together For patients: Guidance on Joint-Working between NHS-Scotland and the Pharmaceutical Industry. This document specifically excludes research, procurement and sponsorship. The reader is directed to NHS Circular MEL (1994) 48 Standards of Business Conduct For NHS Staff (which is now nearly 20 years old and written before devolution) and to the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry: http://www.abpi.org.uk/our-work/library/guidelines/Pages/code-2012.aspx

The ABPI Code has been roundly criticised: Guidance on collaboration with drug industry offers little in the way of ethics or transparency. BMJ2012;344:e2910 http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2910

Lancet withdraws its support of document on collaboration between doctors and drug industry. BMJ2013;346:f770 http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f770

The technique of pharmaceutical companies using Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) is well recognised: Drug marketing: Key opinion leaders: independent experts or drug representatives in disguise? BMJ2008;336:1402 http://www.bmj.com/content/336/7658/1402

Guidelines have become an integral part of medical practice but it is not always clear what influences might lie behind their formation: Three quarters of guideline panellists have ties to the drug industry. BMJ2013;347:f4998 http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f499

The United States of America have just enacted a Sunshine Act: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/advocacy/topics/sunshine-act-and-physician-financial-transparency-reports.page

As I understand it both Australia and France are in the process of developing a Sunshine Act.