Some good news to end the week on (via ProPublica):
In a major departure from industry practice, GlaxoSmithKline, the sixth-largest global drug maker, announced Tuesday that it will no longer hire doctors to promote its drugs.
The company also will stop tying compensation for sales representatives to the number of prescriptions written for drugs they market. The changes will be made worldwide over the next two years.
Oh, they’ll still pay doctors in other ways and keep on funding “independent” continuing medical education. But it’s a small step in the right direction.
Beginning next year, every drug and medical device company will have to make payments to doctors public under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, a provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Some experts have said that such transparency will discourage doctors from accepting payments, a contention supported by some doctors themselves.
“Many people have wondered, what difference will it make?” asked Susan Chimonas, a research scholar at the Center on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University. “Will it clean up practices, or just allow the status quo to continue so long as there is transparency? Glaxo’s move is giving us an early answer – and reason for optimism. The saying about sunlight being the best disinfectant – that’s exactly what we’re seeing here. The Sunshine law is working.”
Let’s hope it continues to do so.