NPC Archive Item: RCP publishes report that aims to resolve conflict between the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession

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13th March 2009

The RCP working party report identifies a number of threats to pharmaceutical innovation in the UK relating to two key themes: patient disillusionment with medicines policy and a failure of trust between the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry. It makes 42 recommendations to redefine the terms of engagement between the NHS, academic medicine, and the pharmaceutical industry, with the health and well-being of the patient as the over-riding objective.

This report is worth reading by all healthcare professionals across all sectors of the NHS, particularly those with responsibilities for supporting continuing professional development (CPD). Amongst the proposals is one to decouple the pharmaceutical industry from CPD.

What does this report propose?
A multi-sector working party convened by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has proposed 42 recommendations which aim to restore trust and promote the effective exchange of ideas between sectors. These include:

  • A cross sector push to restore patient confidence in the prescribing process. This would involve developing an access to medicines strategy to reduce inequalities in medicines provision, and a comprehensive medicines information strategy for patients, to include independent sources of evidence about the effectiveness of prescription drugs for consumers.
  • Measures to restore patient confidence in medical independence. This includes the medical profession collectively adopting the (Nolan) principles laid out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life as a means of reassuring patients of their independence when performing their duties.
  • Decoupling the pharmaceutical industry from CPD. The working party recommends weaning postgraduate training off individual pharmaceutical company sponsorship over a time-bound period while alternative sources of sustainable funding (e.g. royal colleges, Department of Health) are organised. The NHS should assume explicit and transparent educational funding responsibility for doctors in training.
  • Introducing a collaborative culture built on respect for the contribution made by those inside and outside of industry. The report advocates the introduction of more proactive research leadership, clinically and managerially, within the NHS, alongside a better alignment of incentives to promote and sustain research and research careers.

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