GlaxoSmithKline Will End Payments to Doctors

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In 2016, physicians will no longer be paid to attend conferences and sing the praises of the pharmaceutical giant's products.

The days of physicians receiving payments from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to promote its products are coming to an end.

Beginning in 2016, doctors will no longer be compensated to attend conferences or speak publicly about GlaxoSmithKline’s products to audiences whose members play an important role in the prescribing process, Reuters reports.

This is a major development in an industry that’s been criticized for its marketing methods because they appear to create a financial incentive for physicians to prescribe certain high-priced drugs when a lower-cost alternative would do. Says the Portland Press Herald of Maine:

The company is the first major drug manufacturer to take such a step, although the industry as a whole has scaled back its use of doctors to promote specific drugs as scrutiny of drug industry-doctor relationships has increased. Broad, mandatory disclosure rules are set to take effect next year as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Reuters says London-based GSK pays an estimated $82 million a year to doctors to attend or speak at conferences.

“We recognize 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,” Andrew Witty, chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline, said in a statement.

That’s a nice development, considering other recent news. The Wall Street Journal reports:

This summer, Chinese authorities accused Glaxo of bribing doctors, hospitals and government officials to sell more drugs at higher prices. Glaxo has said it is cooperating with the investigation.

And last year, Glaxo agreed to pay $3 billion and plead guilty to criminal charges in the U.S. that it illegally promoted drugs and withheld drug-safety data from regulators.

The company also announced that by 2015 it will do away with sales-based bonuses to in-house marketing staff, which it has already done in the U.S. “Instead, the staff will be evaluated and rewarded for their technical knowledge of the drugs and the quality of the service they deliver to support improved patient care,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says.

What are your thoughts about GlaxoSmithKline’s marketing changes? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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