Healthcare professionals need access to high quality up-to-date information to help them make the best treatment choices for their patients.
As a company that develops and makes many medicines and vaccines, we have an important role to play in providing accurate information about the risks and benefits of our products to HCPs. This includes sharing clinical data and safety information.
Traditionally, healthcare companies have provided information to HCPs in a range of ways including: through sales professionals; by supporting medical education that provides HCPs with the latest information on disease, diagnosis and treatment; and by providing direct financial support to enable HCPs to attend medical conferences to hear about new discoveries, the latest evidence for treatments or advances in care.
Recognising that HCPs also value hearing from their peers, companies have also engaged HCPs to talk on their behalf about their medicines. In keeping with professional relationships, these HCPs have typically received a fee for their time and expertise.
These industry practices have played an important role over the years in supporting HCP education through peer-to-peer interaction. But increasingly, we believe people may question whether a conflict of interest exists in the relationship where payments are made to HCPs to speak on a company's behalf, or where financial support is given to help HCPs attend medical conferences.
We know that HCPs make independent decisions. But even the perception of a conflict of interest can undermine the trust that patients have in the information about medicines being provided to them by their doctors, and we must work to safeguard against that.
In December 2013, we announced three significant new measures to change the way we sell and market our medicines to HCPs. These changes, which are due to be introduced by 2016, include:
Introducing new incentives for sales professionals
By early 2015, our sales professionals around the world will no longer have individual sales targets. Instead, they will be assessed and rewarded on their technical knowledge and the quality of the service they deliver to healthcare professionals to support improved patient care. Having begun this model in the USA in 2011 and seen it deliver improved value to HCPs, we’re now rolling it out across the world.
Delivering independent medical education in new ways
We are changing how we support education for doctors. Our commitment to education remains unchanged but we will move away from direct sponsorship of individual HCPs to arm’s length funding, for example via third party independent medical organisations. It will be up to these organisations to decide how to best deliver education programmes, without influence from GSK.
Stopping direct payments to HCPs to speak on our behalf
We’re stopping the practice of paying HCPs to speak on our behalf about our medicines to other HCPs. Instead, we’re developing new digital, personal and real-time applications to deliver information to healthcare professionals. We’ll make sure the expert medical doctors we have within GSK have more time to talk with and answer questions about our medicines with their peers. They will be responsible for, and measured on, providing the right information to support the appropriate use of our medicines.
While these changes are being introduced, we will continue to disclose any payments we do make to HCPs. These payments must be appropriate for the services and expertise provided to us, must not be excessive, and never be an inducement or reward for prescribing our products.
HCPs will remain valuable partners for GSK and beyond 2016, and we will continue to pay HCPs for certain non-promotional activities that we could not do without them. These include:
conducting GSK-sponsored clinical research advisory activities and market research which provide us with essential insights on specific diseases.