Pharma Cos to Disclose Gifts to Docs
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14 April 2010
By Rupali Mukherjee
New Delhi, India
GSK To Publish Info On Website, Other MNC Subsidiaries May Follow Suit
Sponsored jaunts, gifts in cash or kind and consulting assignments offered to doctors for promoting medicines will soon be disclosed by domestic pharma companies.
While companies like Glaxo–SmithKline India perhaps are becoming the first to do so, other MNC subsidiaries are expected to follow suit soon. Globally, leading companies such as Merck, Eli Lilly and GSK have already started posting public disclosures on their websites since the last quarter of 2009, about payments made to US doctors, and expenses incurred on consulting gigs, clinical trials and investigator–initiated research.
The move has been structured to bring in transparency to an industry often charged of unethical sales and marketing promotions to influence patient prescriptions.
Keeping this in mind, a revolutionary legislation – ‘Physicians Payment Sunshine Act’ – was also passed last month in the US, which requires drug and medical device companies to disclose payments to doctors of over $10, beginning 2012.
A GSK India official told TOI: “We are working towards disclosing payments made to healthcare professionals (HCPs) during July–December 2009. The process involves collating a huge amount of data and we hope to publish the same shortly on our website www.gsk–india.com.”
From early 2010, GSK will disclose the payments it makes to healthcare professionals in countries outside of the US, including India, who speak or consult on its behalf. Globally, GSK in December last year disclosed payments made to United States physicians for speaking and advising services during April–June.
Recently, the world’s biggest drug maker Pfizer Inc followed suit, and said that it paid about $20 million to 4,500 doctors for consulting, and an additional $15 million to 250 academic medical centres for clinical trials last year.
The GlaxoSmithKline official added: “Disclosures will include summary country level information about the payments made to HCPs in the second half of 2009 (no individual HCPs will be named). GSK is reviewing its ability to provide specific information about payments to named individuals in the future. The list will be published annually on local Glaxo–SmithKline websites”.
Commenting on the move, Dr CM Gulati, medical expert and editor of journal Monthly Index of Medical Specialties, said: “Self regulation is merely a diversionary tactic to stop the state from intervening. If one company does a public disclosure and the other one doesn't, how will it help? Unless it's a law with stringent punishments, it does not work. We already have a code of ethics for the industry, which is still voluntary.”
In India, the pharma industry and government believe “in self–regulation”. A code of conduct which curbs unethical sales promotion and marketing expenses and bans non–medical and personal gifts has been drawn up by the industry, which is voluntary.