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New drugs, better patient care and improved clinical outcomes are just some of the positives to emerge from well established partnerships between the NHS and industry, as highlighted in our 2009 publication 'Innovating for health: patients, physicians, the pharmaceutical industry, and the NHS'. The report explored the relationships between patients, physicians, the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS.
The Royal College of Physicians recognises the pivotal role the industry plays in researching and developing prescription medicines for the benefit of patients.
The RCP is a founder member of the Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG) and through this group, we are working alongside partners across the sectors to argue that work is needed in a number of areas, including:
- Transparency relating to the publication of clinical trials
- Increased openness about the involvement of clinicians collaborating with industry in advisory and research capacities
- The way in which training and education can best be delivered in relation to the products of industry.
All partners in the delivery of healthcare have a responsibility to ensure that our relationships meet the expectations of patients and other stakeholders.
We believe complete transparency is mandatory in governing interaction between physicians and industry. Driving best practice in the registration and publication of clinical trials results would prevent duplication of research, and would ensure that those working in translational medicine are fully aware of what has occurred as a new drug is launched.
We also support an agenda of transparency in the delivery of support for education. The value of industry in supporting physician education is recognised, but we are mindful of how such support could be perceived by patients, for example, impacts on the impartiality of their doctor.
The ESHLSG, which is co-chaired by the RCP and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), aims to address these issues and provide a cross-sector forum in which these areas of common concern can be explored and addressed, and standards of patient care subsequently improved.