by Eric Fredrickson, Esq., Harman Law LLC
GlaxoSmithKline has announced major changes to its drug marketing efforts.
- First, the sixth largest pharmaceutical manufacturer will stop paying doctors to promote its drugs.
- Second, GlaxoSmithKline will no longer tie the compensation of its sales representatives to the number of prescriptions written.
These are very welcome developments for an industry that we believe is in near-crisis. Among many other prescription drugs, GSK manufactures Advair for asthma, Lovaza for high triglyceride levels, Avodart for prostate enlargement, and Avandia for diabetes.
Harman Law, among many other critics, has long argued that paying doctors to promote drugs can mislead patients regarding some of their most important decisions.
Will GSK’s payment ban set a precedent?
(Reuters News, December 17, 2013)
Drug companies have regularly compensated doctors who are influential in the medical community—such as professors at highly respected medical schools—to promote their drugs.
At the very least, patients should know if their doctors, or other influential medical professionals, are being paid to promote the very drugs they are taking. And all of our doctors should know if a drug manufacturer is compensating the highly respected doctors whose opinions they consider when writing a prescription.
Similarly, pharmaceutical companies typically base their sales representatives’ pay on the number of prescriptions written. This creates perverse incentives for an industry that so greatly impacts so many peoples’ lives. Certainly, prescription drugs can and have greatly aided virtually all of us.
Illness should not be a growth industry.
These types of aggressive tactics to increase the sales of prescription drugs are not in patients’ best interest. Prescriptions should be written based upon whether it is the right choice for the patient’s health, and nothing else.
These changes from GSK are a major departure from industry practice. A new law known as the Physician Payment Sunshine Act requires drug and medical device companies to make payments to doctors public. It is far better, however, to simply end this practice altogether—as GSK is doing.
This is a small step for a very flawed industry. But it is certainly a start. And a bellwether move like this may pressure other pharmaceutical companies to follow suit. We can only hope that GSK will start a trend.
Eric Fredrickson represents inventors and patent holders around the nation. He also represents victims of pharmaceutical, medical device, and other healthcare-related injuries, giving him a unique perspective on this issue. Contact Eric at 1-888-55-HARMAN or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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