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GlaxoSmithKline To Stop Paying Doctors For Drug Promotion

By Beenthere2Hippie, Dec 19, 2013 | Updated: Dec 19, 2013 | | |
  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Britain's biggest pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, has said it will stop paying doctors tens of millions of pounds a year to promote its drugs.

    GSK has committed to ending payments to doctors for recommending its drugs to other doctors at medical conferences. It will also stop linking the bonuses of sales staff to the number of drugs they sell.

    Sir Andrew Witty, GSK's chief executive, said pharmaceutical firms must end the decades-long standard practice of paying independent doctors to promote drugs, and make sure "patients' interests always come first".

    "We recognise that we have an important role to play in providing doctors with information about our medicines, but this must be done clearly, transparently and without any perception of conflict of interest," he said.

    GSK refused to state how much money it pays doctors to promote its drugs, but a company source said it was in the region of "tens of millions of pounds a year".

    In the UK, where drug firms are forced to declare such payments, GSK paid doctors £1.9m in speaking and advisory fees last year.

    GSK said the payments, which can amount to tens of thousands of pounds for a single lecture, will end by 2016. The company will also stop paying for doctors' flights, hotel bills and other expenses to attend conferences. Last year GSK paid out £900,000 in such expenses.

    The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry estimates that British drug firms pay £40m a year in expenses to UK doctors.

    Instead of paying independent doctors for conference presentations, GSK will hire more in-house doctors. Doctors involved in clinical research will still be paid.

    GSK's commitment to stop paying doctors comes five months after it was accused of behaving like a criminal godfather in China, bribing doctors with cash and prostitutes in return for prescribing its drugs. Last year it paid a record $3bn (£1.9bn) in fines to settle claims that it tricked and bribed US doctors into prescribing children dangerous antidepressants.

    The company said the changes were not linked to either scandal.

    Ben Goldacre, a doctor and Guardian columnist, who helped expose drug companies' manipulation of clinical trial data, said he expected GSK's move would shame the rest of the industry into ending payments to doctors. However, he said the public would be "shocked and amazed" that drug firms were ever allowed to pay doctors.

    "The pharmaceutical industry's reputation is terrible, and when the public find out about this sort of thing they lose trust not just in the pharma industry but medicine in general.

    "Influential doctors are paid thousands or tens of thousands of pounds to teach colleagues about which drugs are best," he said. "I suspect that there are doctors whose lectures aren't entirely independent."

    Goldacre said every doctor who accepted free training from a pharmaceutical company should declare it in notices in waiting rooms detailing the companies and their drugs.

    "They [pharmaceutical companies] don't need to engage in shady practices to turn a profit," he said.

    GSK, the world's third biggest drug company, made pre-tax profits of £6.7bn last year.

    The company has already agreed to publish clinical trial data in a move that campaigners hope will increase the likelihood of medical breakthroughs and protect patients from ill-advised prescriptions.

    Dec. 17, 2013

    Source: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/dec/17/glaxosmithkline-stop-paying-doctors-promote-drugs

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Hey :-)
    GlaxoSmithKline investigates alleged bribery in Iraq

    Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, already facing corruption accusations in China, is now investigating allegations of bribery in Iraq, the British company said on Sunday.

    The latest controversy centres on claims that the company hired government-employed physicians and pharmacists in Iraq as paid sales representatives to improperly boost use of its products.

    [IMGR=''white'']https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=38177&stc=1&d=1107813163[/IMGR]"We are investigating allegations of improper conduct in our Iraq business. We have zero tolerance for unethical or illegal behaviour," a company spokesman said.

    The investigations are ongoing.

    GSK employs fewer than 60 people in its pharmaceuticals operation in Iraq and the allegations relate to a small number of individuals in the country, the spokesman added.

    Britain's biggest drugmaker was accused by Chinese authorities in July of funnelling up to 3 billion yuan (291 million pounds) to doctors and officials to encourage them to use its medicines in a case that rocked the pharmaceuticals industry.

    GSK sales in China, where the company has a staff of around 7,000, plunged in the wake of the scandal and it has recently dismissed some employees in the country and withheld bonuses from others as it seeks to root out wrongdoing.

    While a number of major drugmakers have faced investigations into their overseas practices under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), GSK's problems in China have been unusual in being spearheaded by local Chinese officials.

    GSK has previously described the Chinese corruption allegations as "shameful" and the company recently took steps to tighten procedures, including a move to stop the practice of paying doctors to speak on its behalf.

    The latest allegations concerning Iraq were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which said it had reviewed emails from a person familiar with GSK's Middle East operations citing alleged corrupt practices in Iraq, including continuing issues and alleged misconduct dating from last year and 2012.

    One of the emails said the malpractices appeared to violate both the FCPA and the British Bribery Act, both of which prohibit bribery of foreign officials.

    GSK said that operating in emerging markets was "challenging", given the issues that many countries face in funding their healthcare systems, but the spokesman said the firm remained committed to providing medicines in multiple markets.

    Building up business in developing economies is an important plank of GSK's growth strategy and Chief Executive Andrew Witty has described himself as an "extreme bull" on emerging market prospects.

    Last week, the drugmaker announced plans to invest up to 130 million pounds in Africa. It has also recently built up stakes in local operations in India and Indonesia.

    By Ben Hirschler
    Photograph Reuters Luke Macgregor; GSK in Hounslow London
    April 7 2014
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