Pharmaceutical giants are pouring tens of millions of pounds into struggling NHS services – including paying the salaries of medical staff and funding the redesign of patient treatment – as they seek to boost drug sales in the UK, the Observer can reveal.
The spending is revealed in an investigation that lays bare the growing role of Big Pharma in the UK’s health sector, with analysis of more than 300,000 drug company transactions since 2015 showing a surge in spending on activities other than research and development (R&D).
Payments to UK health professionals and organisations, including donations, sponsorship, consultancy fees and expenses, reached a record £200m in 2022, excluding R&D with companies seeking to promote lucrative drugs for obesity, diabetes and heart conditions among the biggest spenders.
The rise in spending raises concerns about the growing influence of pharmaceutical companies in the NHS as it reaches its 75th anniversary milestone. Amid record pressure on services, drug giants say closer collaboration can help deliver major benefits to patients.
NHS England said collaborations with industry helped patients “benefit from faster access to innovative treatments” and that it was “not unusual for industry to provide funding to support service delivery in areas such as improving cardiovascular health, tackling infectious disease or rolling out innovative cancer therapies”. It added that “strict safeguards” were in place for managing conflicts of interest.
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Source: The Guardian, 8 July 2023