January 08, 2014 | 30,109 views

By Dr. Mercola

mercolaIt is entirely legal for drug companies to pay medical professionals to promote their products, and this practice is widespread in the drug industry.

After all, as the New York Times reported, “doctors are most likely to value the advice of trusted peers,”1 which is why drug companies are known to invest heavily in paying physicians to speak about their products to other physicians (often at medical conferences).

The conflict of interest within this practice is obvious, which is why the drug industry often keeps quiet on their actual payments, as do the medical professionals involved. Now, in a first for any major drug company, British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has announced that it is putting an end to this and other dubious business practices.

Glaxo to Stop Paying Doctors for Drug Promotion

Last month, Glaxo’s chief executive Andrew Witty announced the company would no longer pay health care professionals to promote its products or the diseases they treat to “audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing.” Also set to be discontinued is the practice of paying for doctors to attend medical conferences (a practice that is already banned in the US but is still allowed in other countries).

Glaxo also plans to stop compensating its sales representatives based on the number of prescriptions that doctors write, instead saying that they will base their pay on technical knowledge, quality of service they provide and other factors.

This move was actually required as part of a corporate integrity agreement Glaxo made with the US Justice Department in 2011, but it only applies to the US. Glaxo now plans to extend the policy globally.

The new plan, which is expected to take effect worldwide by 2016, is said to be the culmination of a yearlong effort “to try and make sure we stay in step with how the world is changing,” according to Witty.2 But some believe it may simply be “a desperate attempt to deflect attention from recent scandals”3 that have plagued the drug giant…

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