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GSK to end direct payments to doctors for attending medical conferences

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.

3 Comments

  1. Maj Pankaj Rai (Retd) Maj Pankaj Rai (Retd) Saturday, December 21, 2013

    Kudos to Dr Neeraj Nagpal for his constructive ideas. I will also add one more suggestion – either build sites where best practices can be shared and doctors can update their knowledge which will benefit patients or lower the cost of their drugs.

  2. I'm a selective activist I'm a selective activist Friday, December 20, 2013

    Hope others follow the lead. This commission system, as used by some doctors, needs to end immediately. Pharma companies (speaking generally) sometimes even openly offer bribes to doctors (happened with me) to prescribe their brands. Hope they cut the prices of their drugs instead of lining pockets.

  3. Dr Neeraj Nagpal Dr Neeraj Nagpal Wednesday, December 18, 2013

    It is a welcome step that atleast one major pharma company has taken. My concern is that this money saved should not simply bloat the coffers of the company. This amount should instead be used to fund research, disseminate medical education, create awareness among the public regarding various myths and misconceptions. A lot of cutting edge research work published in medical journals is also funded by pharma companies and this should continue with full disclosure. Doctors participating in such research should declare their funding and affiliations with any pharma company. After fininishing their training and coming into practice , over the years, doctors gain experience and knowledge in their own specialization but also forget a lot about other specialities. Continuing Medical Education programmes and conferences serve a purpose for doctors in clinical practice by providing an oppurtunity to them to update their knowledge. However Instead of hosting dinners for doctors if online sites can be created to udate doctors on latest practice guidelines it would be beneficial for the doctors as well as their patients. In the name of stopping sponsorship to doctors the pharma companies should not be allowed to simply improve their bottomline.

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