GSK’s New PR Spin (Championed By Ben Goldacre) “Doctors Off The GSK Payroll”

Ben G

I think that some of the comments on this articulate my opinion better than I can myself today…

I’ll blog more on this later…

“Maybe I’m misreading this, but wasn’t this spurred by the fact that they got caught committing a crime in China?”

“Evidently we are supposed to applaud this news: one of the largest drug making companies, repeatedly caught in unethical and manipulative behavior designed to increase its already enormous market share, is now going to behave slightly better, without admitting in any way that it’s done anything wrong”

“As a former pharmaceutical sales representative, sales manager, marketing director and regional president of a pharmaceutical company I have observed the declining ethics in the industry in the last fifty years.
There were many companies,generally headed by a physician, offering a very wide range of products, both over the counter and prescription.
In my company, sales representatives were either pharmacists or had pre-med college backgrounds.
Marketing was educationally oriented. Before each two month sales program a meeting to update all research and published information was held.
Marketing information was given only to pharmacists and physicians.
As the companies were generally headed by a physician, they were very patient and service oriented.
Now there are a few, monopolistic companies. The range of products is limited by their potential sales volume.
Sales representatives preferred are “pom pom” girls because they have better “personalities” to react with the physicians. Especially when promoting erectile dysfunction products.
Marketing is to the consumer in TV, magazines, etc. emphasizing possible benefits in photos and large print and limiting possible dangerous side effect in microscopic volumes.
The advertising directly to the public is the most unethical of all. Instilling doubt, suggesting benefits and obscuring risks to a public which is not educated to evaluate is gross.”

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Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs

Glaxo is first among its peers to announce a plan to end paid-speaker programs, but it is not the only one considering such a move, said Pratap Khedkar, who oversees the pharmaceutical practice at ZS Associates, a global sales and marketing firm.

He said a handful of drug makers were weighing similar actions for several reasons, including concerns about the reaction to the required disclosure of such payments that will begin next fall under a provision of the health care law. Glaxo and several other major companies already report many such payments, but Mr. Khedkar said the new requirements may go farther than what some companies are reporting, and will be accessible on a searchable government website.

Previously, “It wasn’t really made public in some big, splashy way,” he said.

Jeff Francer, vice president and senior counsel at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group, said many other companies were looking for ways to better reach increasingly busy doctors — who may not have time to travel to a conference in the first place — and Glaxo’s actions represent just one example.

“Of course all of our companies are looking for ways in which they can refine their relationship with physicians to make sure they’re making the best use of physicians’ time,” he said.

Beginning in 2015, Glaxo will also no longer compensate sales representatives based on the number of prescriptions doctors write, a standard practice that some have said pushed pharmaceutical sales officials to inappropriately promote drugs to doctors. In 2012, Glaxo paid a record $3 billion in fines to resolve charges that it had marketed drugs for unapproved uses. It is one of several major companies to have settled such cases in recent years.

Glaxo said its sales representatives worldwide would instead be paid based on their technical knowledge, the quality of service they provided to clients to improve patient care, and the company’s business performance. The company made such changes in the United States in 2011 — and is required to continue the new program under a corporate integrity agreement with the Justice Department — but will now extend the practices to its global business.

Mr. Khedkar said some other companies were also experimenting with ways to compensate sales representatives, but they must tread carefully.

“You remove the incentive to do anything inappropriate, but you also remove the incentive to do what is appropriate, which is to promote the on-label use of your product,” he said.

Mr. Witty said the experience in the United States had been positive and had improved relationships with doctors and medical institutions.

Dr. Raed Dweik, the new chairman of the innovation management and conflict of interest committee at the Cleveland Clinic, said he hoped other companies would follow suit.

“As a physician, I periodically meet with these sales reps and they usually come in armed with information about me that I don’t even know,” he said, like the number of prescriptions he writes for the drug company’s product. “I feel that’s not really a comfortable interaction to have.”


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