GSK reverses course on physician payments

Not compensating for speaker programs and sponsored meetings has affected marketing, says the firm


In a news release along with an updated corporate Code of Practice, GSK announced that it is returning to the practice of reimbursing healthcare providers for engaging in speaker programs, attending GSK-sponsored meetings, and paying registration fees for remote webinars and webcasts (but not in-person events). The old policy, instituted under former CEO Andrew Witty (and following a period when GSK as well as numerous other pharma companies paid hefty penalties for alleged improper marketing practices), was leaving GSK lagging in its marketing, according to the statement:

“In 2013, we announced we would stop paying HCPs to speak on our behalf about our products or disease areas and that we would rely more on our own clinical experts. Five years on, GSK is the only company to have taken this approach and other companies continue to compensate HCPs when sharing data and talking about clinical experience. The effect of this has been that our educational programs have not been as widely available, or seen as compelling to HCPs, compared to other company programs. We believe this has led to a reduced understanding of our products and is, ultimately, restricting patients’ access to truly innovative medicines and vaccines.”

Since that time, the Open Payments system under the Physicians Sunshine Act went into effect in the US, and similar programs exist in much of the developed world. The company notes that it will comply with all reporting requirements, and that payments are likely not to come near the aggregate levels that were spent prior to the restriction. “These changes are being made for a select number of innovative products in a limited number of countries and apply to restricted time periods in a product’s lifecycle,” the statement concludes.