Importance: Drug company payments to health care organizations can create conflicts of interest. However, little is known about such financial relationships, especially outside the United States.
Objective: To examine the concentration and patterns of drug company payments to health care organizations in the United Kingdom.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study examined nonresearch payments reported in the industry-run Disclosure UK database. Companies participating in Disclosure UK in 2015 and health care organizations receiving their payments were included in the analysis. The data were analyzed descriptively at the health care organization, payment, and donor levels, considering health care organization categories, payment categories, and companies from February 5 through May 28, 2017, with follow-up checks from June 1 through August 31, 2018. Analysis was conducted from July 10 through December 20, 2018.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Share of funding and the Gini index (GI) to measure payment concentration (0 indicates perfect deconcentration [eg, all drug companies provide the same value of payments]; 1, perfect concentration [eg, 1 company provides the entire value of payments]) and median and interquartile range (IQR) to measure payment patterns.
Results: A total of 4028 health care organizations received 19 933 payments, worth US $72 110 156.6, from 100 companies. This study identified 11 categories of health care organizations, with 3-public-sector secondary and tertiary care providers, education and research providers, and professional organizations-accumulating 67.2% of funding. The health care organization categories had varying GIs (range, 0.65-0.92), medians (range, $750.3-$45 862.4), and IQRs (range, $389.1-$1843.9 to $3104.4-$199 868.2). Of 4 payment categories, the top category-donations and grants-captured 50.6% of funding. Joint working (collaborative projects with nonindustry partners) had a lower GI (0.64) than other payment categories (range, 0.79-0.84). The median and IQR were the lowest for contributions to costs of events ($366.8; IQR, $229.3-611.3) and highest for joint working ($14 903.7; IQR, $3185.0-34,748.4). The top 10 firms (58.6% of funding) had payments with varying medians (from $366.8 [IQR, $244.5-611.3] to $9781.3 [IQR, $1834.0-48 906.7]).
Conclusions and Relevance: Although organizations from across the health care system received funding, the payments were concentrated on a few large donors, payments, and recipients. Different payment and recipient categories had different patterns of payment values, suggesting that the industry has diversified its funding strategies across different parts of the health care system. These results suggest that Disclosure UK requires improved transparency, particularly by including built-in recipient categories, and that organizational conflicts of interest need more policy attention, including disclosure of payments independent of the industry.
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