Changing the way we work with healthcare professionals

Written by Murray Stewart

We are leading the industry in changing the way we work with doctors and other healthcare professionals. Our Chief Medical Officer, Murray Stewart, explains how these changes put patients’ interests at the heart of every decision we take.

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As a pharmaceutical company we work with doctors and healthcare professionals (HCPs) in a number of ways. We share information about our medicines to help healthcare professionals (HCPs) make the right prescribing decisions for patients. Doctors have spoken on our behalf about our medicines to their peers, and been paid a fee for that, and we have supported their attendance at educational meetings. They also share their scientific and medical expertise, and their experience of caring for patients with us as advisors.

We believe the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and HCPs relationship is fundamental to the progress of medical science and to help meet patient and public health needs. We also recognise a growing concern that the way the industry currently provides information and education to HCPs may be perceived to inappropriately influence prescribing decisions. This is why we have committed to changing the way we work with doctors and HCPs.

The first of these changes is a new way to remunerate our sales professionals. From January 2015, none of our sales professionals around the world have individual sales targets. Instead, they are rewarded on their technical knowledge and the quality of the service their deliver to HCPs.

Secondly, we believe that we continue to have an important role in supporting the continued education of HCPs with information on disease, diagnosis and treatment, supplementing the education provided by governments and their employers. But, we will approach this differently to remove any perception of inappropriately influencing prescribing decisions.

We are implementing a new, arms length approach to supporting HCP attendance at medical and scientific congresses through independent third parties which will decide who receives funding to attend these important meetings. We will not have any influence over the selection of individual HCPs to receive sponsorship.

We will continue to support Independent Medical Education (IME) activities by enabling independent third party organisations to apply for ‘arms-length’ funding for educational programmes. We will have no influence on content development, faculty and participant selection for projects which received funding. The changes we are making will not affect our commitment to medical education but will mean the decision about ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘who’ will be made by independent organisations.

And finally, we have phased out payments to HCPs to speak on our behalf about our prescription medicines. Instead, we’re developing new digital, personal and real-time applications to improve our delivery of information to HCPs. We’ll make sure our expert medical doctors have more time to talk with and answer questions about our medicines with their peers. They are the experts on the medicines that we have spent years developing, and will be responsible for providing the right information to support safe and effective use. We are investing significantly in developing our Global Medical Organisation to ensure that we have the capacity and expertise to support HCPs.

We will continue to work with and pay HCPs for non-promotional, essential activities including clinical research and sharing their clinical experience in an advisory manner. These interactions are a key part of how we ensure medicines we develop are safe and effective and meet patient’s needs.

These changes are significant but we are committed to transforming our business model so that patients are at the heart of every decision we take.

Chief Medical Officer

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