Peter on sunshine

The UK government is looking to introduce ‘sunshine legislation’ to make it mandatory to openly publish details of payments made by industry and the commercial sector to healthcare professionals and organisations. The consultation is open for 6 weeks and will close at 11:59 pm on 16 October 2023.

The Sling The Mesh perspective on this, including three key areas of concern that this patient group has about the consultation, can be read here.

Professor Carl Heneghan’s blog on the consultation can be read here:

I have been a campaigner for Sunshine legislation for more than two decades. In 2013 I raised a petition with the Scottish Parliament which urged the Scottish Government to introduce sunshine legislation. This led to a consultation with the Scottish public. The majority of those consulted agreed that Sunshine legislation should be introduced and that all payments to healthcare workers, academics and scientists should be published in a single, central, openly accessible register.

The Scottish Government chose to ignore the voices of those consulted. This was reported in the BMJ:

The decision to reject Sunshine legislation was taken behind closed doors and took two years and Freedom of Information legislation to reveal. Corridors of power are indeed just that.  I was surprised that the Scottish Press did not report that the [then] Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport had chosen to ignore the voices of those consulted. The heavily redacted FOI response can be read here.  I would urge you to read it.

Five years have passed since the Scottish Government chose to ignore a majority of voices. So was this behind-the-scenes use of power wise? Or was it misuse of power and unethical?

Professor Carl Heneghan, research  from 2022:

You might ask, does this really matter?  It does. Very much so. Those harmfully affected by the consequences of commercial interests put ahead of dispassionate science need to be listened to. Lessons need to be learned.

The Sling the Mesh campaign:

The Van Tulleken brothers agree:

Paid opinion leaders are financially remunerated by commercial interests because they influence prescribing and medical interventions. Most doctors and healthcare workers are not paid opinion leaders. However, the doctors and healthcare workers that you so trust are routinely “educated” by paid opinion leaders.

All details made about “commercially sensitive” arrangements need to be fully transparent.  Otherwise ‘fully informed consent’ will continue to be a meaningless concept.

Peter on sunshine:

I am currently preparing my response to the latest consultation.  When complete I will share it on hole ousia . This is a complex subject important to everyday life.

In due course, I intend to offer a summary of my thoughts on this consultation to the BMJ.

Meantime, let me openly share some of my thoughts on this consultation:

[1] Yet again those in power do not seem to fully acknowledge/recognise the potential for harm when commercial interests are put ahead of patient interests. If you do a word search for the word ‘harm’ in the information provided for this open consultation, you will find harm mentioned only three times. Apart from quoting the actual title of the Cumberlege Review the only other time the word harm is mentioned in this Consultation is this: “We propose to define ‘commercially sensitive information’ as information whose disclosure the business thinks will significantly harm the legitimate business interests of the undertaking to which it relates.”

[2]  Healthcare should take the lead and not Industry.

[3]  This consultation has excluded, from outset, the option of all information on payments from industry being recorded on one central, openly searchable register

[4] This “consultation” [quotes are necessary] confirms that the UK Government is determined to put commercial interests first. World leadingly so.

2 Replies to “Peter on sunshine”

  1. Do you know what RCPsych’s response will be?

    1. When pushed, the College finally said this on Sunshine legislation: “This is a matter for the Government to decide”. RCPsych has given no response to the Cumberlege Review: First Do No Harm.

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