Pharmaceutical companies are banned from advertising prescription drugs directly to Australian consumers. But they can promote their products to doctors and other health professionals, including through sponsored “education events”.

The money pharmaceutical companies pay to doctors in the form of consultancies, speeches, travel, grants and gifts is mostly secret. Since 2007, however, many drug companies — the members of self-regulatory body Medicines Australia — have been required to provide at least some information about the medical education events they hold, including the cost of food, wine and hospitality.

The Global Mail has created a database of these reports. Here are some key facts and figures we have been able to extract from the data.


Company Dollars spent Attendees Events Reports
View all companies

Press on each pharmaceutical company to find out more, including details of its most expensive event during the reporting period July 2007 to March 2013. This list is limited to companies who are members of Medicines Australia. To understand why not all companies show the same number of reports, press here.

*Data is currently incomplete for these companies. Read more.

The Big Picture

Pharmaceutical companies spent an average of

every week on education events in Australia.

Between July 2007 and March 2013 they spent .
That's a year.
How many events is that in total?

education events happen per day

Medical professionals attended an event between July 2007 and March 2013.

That’s attendances every year. There are about 300,000 doctors, nurses and pharmacists registered in Australia.

These events happen all over Australia

    Figures represent total events for each state since July 2007.

    And the really lucky doctors are given trips overseas

    There were more than 40 overseas destinations listed. Here are the three most visited countries*.

      *Companies sponsored hospitality and/or travel. Figures represent total events for each country July 2007 - March 2013.

      Who gets wined and dined (and who gets a cup of coffee)?

      Breaking down the Big Pharma spend on education events by attendee type.

      *In the data, nurses aren’t usually categorised into specialties so we have grouped them into a single category. More doctors than nurses attended events, but doctors have been divided into areas of specialty.

      Chronic education

      Big Pharma's education events are more likely to focus on chronic illnesses. What are the top five illness types by spend?

      Figures represent total spend on events that discussed each illness type (July 2007 - March 2013). These events might have covered more than one topic, and there is crossover between the categories.

      The average spend per person (PP), at one of these events is

      Total events per price range
      • Under $10 pp Events
      • $10-$20 PP Events
      • $20-$50 PP Events
      • Over $50 pp Events


      of events served alcohol
      At most events, companies supplied hospitality equivalent to a coffee and a muffin.

      Total number of attendees per price range:

      Figures represent total spend on hospitality July 2007 - March 2013.

      What's unknown

      Pharma companies don’t have to name the medical professionals who attend sponsored events, so there’s no public record of your own doctor’s participation.


      And because of loose reporting rules, it’s often unclear which drugs are advertised at these events.

      This data represents only a small portion of the companies' marketing budgets and doesn’t include money they pay to health professionals for consultancies on advisory boards and other company events. (Some aggregate data is now published on Medicines Australia's transparency reporting page.)

      Use the data

      If you are interested in analysing the data yourself download the spreadsheets below. Please note that the overall spreadsheet contains more than 165,000 events.

      To provide feedback on how we can improve this resource, or to suggest further data investigations, please email

      Notes about this data:

      There have been 11 six-monthly and 1 three-monthly reporting periods since July 2007, when it became mandatory for pharmaceutical companies that are members of Medicines Australia to submit reports on their sponsored education events.

      Our database accounts for about 95 per cent of the data in those reports. While our stalwart data researchers have done their best to load all the PDFs, some are trickier than others to feed into our database. This is particularly the case with large companies Eli Lilly Australia (three reports yet to input) and Sanofi-Aventis (two left to input).

      The overall totals will change when those final reports are included, and those companies’ positions in the overall list may also change.

      For some companies, the complete set of spreadsheets may be less than 12; this is often because companies have merged or been acquired by another company.

      Some are new companies or have shut down since 2007.

      Some companies have left Medicines Australia and joined other membership groups (e.g. Alphapharm joined the Generic Medicines Industry Association).

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