Under-reported relationship: a comparative study of pharmaceutical industry and patient organisation payment disclosures in the UK (2012-2016)

Piotr Ozieranski, Marcell Csanádi, Emily Rickard, Shai Mulinari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)


OBJECTIVES: To examine the under-reporting of pharmaceutical company payments to patient organisations by donors and recipients. DESIGN: Comparative descriptive analysis of payments disclosed on drug company and charity regulator websites.UK. PARTICIPANTS: 87 donors (drug companies) and 425 recipients (patient organisations) reporting payments in 2012-2016. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number and value of payments reported by donors and recipients; differences in reported payments from/to the same donors and recipients; payments reported in either dataset but not the other one; agreement between donor-recipient ties established by payments; overlap between donor and recipient lists and, respectively, industry and patient organisation data. RESULTS: Of 87 donors, 63 (72.4%) reported payments but 84 (96.6%) were mentioned by recipients. Although donors listed 425 recipients, only 200 (47.1%) reported payments. The number and value of payments reported by donors were 259.8% and 163.7% greater than those reported by recipients, respectively. The number of donors with matching payment numbers and values in both datasets were 3.4% and 0.0%, respectively; for recipients these figures were 7.8% and 1.9%. There were 24 and 3 donors missing from industry and patient organisation data during the entire study period, representing 38.1% and 3.6% of those in the respective datasets. The share of donor-recipient ties in which industry and patient organisation data agreed about donors and recipients was 38.9% and 68.4% in each dataset, respectively. Of 63 donors reporting payments, only 3 (4.8%) had their recipient lists fully overlapping with patient organisation data. Of 200 recipients reporting industry funding, 102 (51.0%) had their donor lists fully overlapping with industry data. CONCLUSIONS: Both donors and recipients under-reported payments. Existing donor and recipient disclosure systems cannot manage potential conflicts of interest associated with industry payments. Increased standardisation could limit the under-reporting by each side but only an integrated donor-recipient database could eliminate it.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere037351
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
Early online date19 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2020


  • health policy
  • medical ethics
  • protocols & guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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