London: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, on Tuesday announced the start of a two-year process during which it will begin a consultative process towards stopping direct payments to healthcare professionals for speaking engagements and for attendance at medical conferences.
“At the same time, the company will increase its focus on developing its multi-channel capability and alternative approaches to enable it to continue to provide appropriate information about its products and to support medical education for healthcare professionals,” according to a statement by the company.
Andrew Witty, CEO, GSK, said, “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.”
Under the process, which begins in early 2014 and is expected to be in place across GSK’s global business by the start of 2016, GSK will stop providing financial support directly to individual healthcare professionals to attend medical conferences and instead will fund education for healthcare professionals through unsolicited, independent educational grant routes.
GSK will also end the practice of paying healthcare professionals to speak on its behalf, about its products or disease areas, to audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing, said the statement.
According to the statement, GSK will continue to provide appropriate fees for services to healthcare professionals for GSK sponsored clinical research, advisory activities and market research.
“These activities are essential in providing GSK with insights on specific diseases; identification of symptoms and diagnosis; application of clinical trial data or medication dosage and administration; and how to effectively and appropriately communicate the benefits and risks of its medicines to help meet patient needs,” it said.
The company has also reiterated its commitment to disclose the payments it makes to healthcare professionals, saying it already does so in several countries including the USA, Australia, UK, Japan and France in line with locally agreed government or industry association standards.
“GSK will continue to disclose the payments it makes for clinical research advisory activities and market research in these countries and will also continue to work towards transparency in other countries as industry associations or governments establish specific guidelines for disclosure,” said the statement.
“GSK has an important role to play in supporting education for healthcare professionals and in providing accurate information about its medicines to help them make the best treatment decision for their patients, such as sharing new clinical data, details of label changes or safety updates,” it said.
Recognising this, the company will direct additional focus and investment to strengthen its own dedicated medical and scientific capability to appropriately lead engagement with healthcare professionals; improve GSK’s multi-channel capability, including use of digital technologies, to ensure appropriate product and disease area information can be provided to healthcare professionals conveniently; and support fair, balanced and objective medical education for healthcare professionals through provision of independent educational grants.