As part of our decade long journey to increase the transparency of clinical research and interactions with healthcare professionals, we continue to make changes, such as stopping payments to doctors to speak about our prescription medicines, refreshing our approach to medical education and putting an end to compensation for sales representatives based on numbers of prescriptions generated.
We have already seen the benefits of these changes in some countries. While our new ways of working with HCPs came into effect across the globe on 1 January 2016, some European countries had already stopped paying for external HCP speakers and some have already published payments made to HCPs, in line with local government regulation or industry association codes. This includes the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.
Pioneering transparency in the Netherlands
In 2012, GSK Netherlands became one of the first countries to publish information about payments by pharmaceutical companies to HCPs through a transparency register. This national initiative was supported by an agreement between the government and 15 organisations, including the pharmaceutical industry and independent medical associations.
Neale Belson, General Manager, GSK Netherlands, said: “The transparency register is definitely seen as a success by all involved. The process was valued highly because it was carried out with the joint co-operation of the industry and medical professionals”.
The Netherlands register is seen as a model of good practice by other industries, such as veterinary medicine and medical devices. “It has triggered a new kind of thinking about how to collaborate”, added Neale. “A logical next step is to develop a more multi-channel approach to working with HCPs. We’re putting this in place now in the Netherlands with new digital and real-time applications aimed at improving the delivery of medical information to our customers”, he continued.
Going beyond transparency in Denmark
As part of a government-led initiative, doctors in Denmark have been disclosing payments received from the pharmaceutical industry since November 2014. Henrik Kastoft, Head of Communications, GSK Denmark, explained that any concerns about disclosure preventing doctors from collaborating with industry partners soon disappeared.
“We want to work with those doctors whose priority is their patients, and the trust that patients have in decisions made about their care”, he said. “This group of doctors has reacted positively to disclosure, and it has only strengthened our relationship with them by removing doubts about possible conflicts of interest”, he continued.
Stopping speaker payments to doctors has also had a positive impact. Henrik noted: “The head of a Danish medical association publicly described our initiative as “ground-breaking”. It has been reported on very positively in several business and medical media articles, with in-depth interviews with our medical advisors”.