Pharmaceutical companies spent €58.5m sponsoring doctors, patients organisations and healthcare providers last year, the Volkskrant said on Thursday.
This is a rise of 13% on 2015, the paper said, quoting figures from the Transparantieregister Zorg, set up five years ago to provide details about healthcare sponsorship.
Most of the increase is due to extra spending on care institutions and doctors. Payment to patients organisations fell by €500,000 to €1.7m. Less money also went to pay doctors to speak at conferences, a trend which first began in Britain with GlaxoSmithKline.
Sponsoring by pharmaceutical companies is controversial because it can give rise to conflicts of interest. ‘Companies are not paying €58m in order to get nothing back. They are not philanthropists,’ said Ruud Coolen van Brakel of the IVM institute which investigates prescription patterns.
‘The sponsor cash paid to patients organisations is recouped in the price of medicines,’ he said. ‘No-one asks if we all benefit from this.’