Excellent new guidance published to help charities and pharma work together with the public’s trust @ABPI_UK @NVTweeting

It’s high time we got over it.

Pretending it doesn’t go on is foolish.

Suspecting the worst every time they come near to one another is energy-sapping.

No one is trying to deny history. But we are in danger of denying others a future if we continue to stand in their way.

I mean, of course, charities and pharmaceutical companies working together.

This is one of those issues that provokes the strongest of reactions from people.  I completely understand why but a dogmatic rejection of the idea seems profoundly wrong.  We have to find ways to enable these sectors to build bridges and work together in ways that the public can trust and feel confident in.  Their joint-working will not only lead to better medicines but also better behaviour by companies and charities.

Today National Voices, a membership organisation of charities working for a stronger patient voice in health and social care, and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), have published a new guide to support charities and companies to forge collaborations in a transparent and effective way.

It sets out four principles on which these partnerships should be based: clarity of purpose; integrity; transparency and independence.  It also goes one step further than work by organisations such as the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) in providing practical advice and support that will help charity and pharma staff think through the practicalities and governance of making such partnerships work.  In my experience it is often fuzziness and fumbling over the latter that causes most problems to staff but also in how things are handled in the public domain.

The guidance comes with an exceptionally strong provenance in terms of its methodology and who was on the Steering Group.  Not least the Group’s Chair, Harry Cayton, who is Chief Executive of the Professional Standards Authority and who says in a guest blog on the ABPI website today:

‘Previous guidance and direction does exist in this area, but there is nothing which covers the full range of issues, addresses charities and industry together, or fully promotes mutual understanding. We feel this is a valuable contribution to an issue that should ultimately lead to genuine benefits for patients. It is now up to companies and charities entering into collaborations to ensure that these outcomes are delivered.’

I commend it to you all.


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