GlaxoSmithKline to Stop Paying Doctors to Make Speeches

On 18/Dec/2013 / In Medical News

GlaxoSmithKline is making major changes to its incentive schemes following a damaging corruption scandal in China, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported on Tuesday..

The pharmaceuticals firm will stop paying doctors to promote its products through speaking engagements.

Members of its sales force will also no longer have individual sales targets.

Earlier this year, Chinese police said GSK had transferred 3bn yuan ($489m; £321m) to travel agencies and consultancies to help bribe doctors.

But the company says the latest measures are not related to that continuing investigation. Instead, it says, they are part of a wider effort to improve transparency.

In a statement, the Chief Executive of GSK, Sir Andrew Witty, said, “Today we are outlining a further set of measures to modernise our relationship with healthcare professionals.

“These are designed to bring greater clarity and confidence that whenever we talk to a doctor, nurse or other prescriber, it is patients’ interests that always come first.”

As well as stopping payments to doctors for making speeches, GSK is also ending payments to healthcare professionals for attending medical conferences.

A spokesperson told the BBC that there were “perceived conflicts of interest with that way of working.”

GSK plans a new system under which independent organisations, like universities, can approach GSK for a grant if they want a particular doctor to attend a medical conference.

In a statement, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said: “Whilst we agree that GSK should not directly sponsor doctors going to meetings, we are satisfied that they will continue to financially support education.

“It is pleasing to see a large pharmaceutical company like GlaxoSmithKline recognise that it can reduce the possibility of undue influence by rewarding employees for providing high-quality information and education for doctors, rather than for their sales figures.”

GSK says sales representatives will be rewarded for “technical knowledge” and the “quality of the service they deliver to support improved patient care”. Their compensation will also be linked to the overall performance of GSK.

Salespeople in the US have already been working under those conditions since 2011.

A spokesperson from GSK said: “It was always our intent to role it out globally.”

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