Business World

Thursday 19 October 2017

GSK to cut out doctor payments as marketing tactics come under fire

The headquarters of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in west London.
The headquarters of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in west London.
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

GLAXOSMITHKLINE (GSK) will stop paying doctors to promote its drugs at events and remove certain sales targets in a bid to fend off criticism. The new global rules push it far ahead of Irish rules governing payments to doctors by drug companies.

A spokesperson told the Irish Independent that the move will advance GSK far beyond the disclosure rules currently set down in Ireland.

GSK, the maker of Panadol, employs around 1,600 people in Ireland and is one of the country's largest multinational employers.

Its decision represents a bid by the UK's biggest drugmaker to get ahead of its critics by addressing potential conflicts of interest that might be seen to put commercial interests ahead of the best outcome for patients.

It comes amid a major bribery probe in China, where police have accused GSK of funneling up to 3 billion yuan (€359m) to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to boost its drug sales.

"We recognise 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," said chief executive Andrew Witty.

There has been an increasing emphasis on full and frank disclosure by drug companies in recent years after the industry came under fire for aggressive marketing tactics.

In Europe this has been led by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, whose new voluntary code of conduct has been adopted in Ireland.

This includes a ban on gifts and promotions from drug manufacturers to doctors effective from the middle of next year, and a requirement that all payments by companies to healthcare professionals be made public by 2016.

Irish Independent

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