January 3, 2014

Is GlaxoSmithKline for Real?

This is news from last year, but still news. Is the gravy train stopping for doctors? We can only hope that this announcement from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is a trend for things to come. Unfortunately, this will not go into full effect until 2016. This will allow doctors to find other sources of income and time for GSK drug reps to be reassigned where needed. I also suspect there are several reasons behind this action.

A large part of this action, denied by GSK, is the fraud action in China against GSK. In the USA, Medicare may have forced the issue with the cuts they are putting in place to reduce the cost of medications for Medicare patients. This is only a logical supposition
I can see making GSK take this action. In order to be competitive in the Medicare marketplace, expenses need to be reduced. This means that doctors will stop receiving money for prescriptions filled; speaking engagements and the drug reps will be receiving a wage and not current incentives.

GSK will not release figures for the costs and incentives paid out to doctors for prescribing their medications, but it has to be quite large. And, before we forget, these dollars will appear on the web beginning in 2014. I thought the site was operational, but apparently, it is down while issues of reliability are ironed out to satisfy the different medical groups.

Another medical group, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), must be feeling the pinch as their training school for drug company reps will be affected. It has been reworded and moved since the last time I visited the site. It is now listed as “AACE Industry Training & Certification Program. It is still a PDF file.

GSK says it will continue to pay doctors consulting fees for market research. GSK says this is necessary for the company to gain insight about their products; however, this will be limited in scope. A GSK spokesman said the company spends “tens of millions” of dollars globally each year on the practices that they are ending, but would not be more specific.

Maybe this will let our doctors become more transparent and not be pushing certain drugs for compensation. It is interesting reading some of the comments to the article in the NYTimes. Now the question remains, how many other drug manufacturers will follow GSK and how long will it take.

Andrew Witty, GSK's chief executive, stated that while details are still being worked out, the company intends to provide grants to respected educational institutions and medical societies. He continued that he is looking for these partners and he does not envision these partners being companies or pseudocompanies. I suspect medical schools will be the partners of choice to spread the word about GSK products.

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