Glaxo to stop paying doctors to promote its drug sales

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Glaxo to stop paying doctors
to promote its drug sales

NEW YORK: GlaxoSmithKline the British multinational pharmaceutical giant has announced that it will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will also stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write. This has been stated by GSK chief executive. In a news repot appearing in New York Times of December 16, 2013, this will effectively end two common industry practices that critics have long stated as troublesome conflicts of interests.
This is the first move by a multinational while others, it is learnt, are seriously considering following the same. GSK, it may be mentioned here is facing bribery investigations in China where authorities say the company funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in a bid to promote its drug sales. According to Andrew Witty Claxo’s chief executive the proposed changes were not related to the investigations in China but were a part of a year’s long effort “to try and make sure we stay in step with how the world is changing.” We keep asking ourselves are there different ways which are more effective ways of operating than perhaps the ways we as an industry have been operating over the last thirty to forty years?
It may be mentioned here that for decades pharmaceutical companies have paid doctors to speak their behalf at conferences and other meetings of medical professionals on the assumption that the doctors are most likely to value the advice of trusted peers. However, it has also come under severe criticism that it unduly influences the information doctors give each other and can lead them to prescribe drugs inappropriately to patients. All such payments by pharmaceutical companies are to be made public next year under requirements of the Obama Administration’s healthcare law. Glaxo, said it will stop providing financial support directly to doctors to attend medical conferences a practice that is prohibited in the United States through an industry imposed regulation.
It will be interesting to note that unethical marketing practices and bribing the healthcare professionals in different ways to promote their sales was initiated by the multinationals in Pakistan but now some of the national pharmaceutical companies have taken the lead in this regard. However, at the same time there are a few pharmaceutical companies which have emerged as trend setters to uphold professional ethics and try to build professional capacity of the doctors to earn their confidence and trust rather than bribing them. National Bioethics Committee also took up this issue few years ago and has come up with its Guidelines on Physician-Pharma industry interaction which is a comprehensive document approved by the Federal Government but its implementation has as usual remained a question mark which speaks volumes of the government’s incompetence, inefficiency and lack of interest in ensuring that medical profession as well Pharma industry follows codes of conduct and ethical practice.