Doctors got more than €7m from drug firms last year
Doctors and other health professionals received more than €7m from big drug companies last year, mostly to subsidise their travel, accommodation and attendance at foreign health conferences.
The overall payments by drug companies to health staff, hospitals, health organisations and research and development came to more than €30m, according figures published yesterday by the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association.
The figures show individual doctors were sponsored to the tune of thousands of euro to subsidise their attendance at conferences which can be held in far flung destinations with many convened in the United States.
However, only around 57pc of doctors, nurses and pharmacists allowed themselves be paid and the rest opted for anonymity.
The figures show that public hospitals received more than €3.7m in payments last year, which in many cases subsidises the hiring of staff including nurses and doctors.
The payouts show the ongoing strong links between the drugs industry and key figures and institutions in public and private healthcare.
This has led to ongoing questions about the potential for a conflict of interest.
The industry is currently at loggerheads with the Department of Health over what it says is the slow pace at which new advanced drugs to treat cancer and other illnesses are being made available to patients.
These include drugs that the HSE has approved but is asking the Department of Health to provide special funding.