GlaxoSmithKline has become the first major pharmaceutical company to quit the industry’s decades-long practice of paying doctors to promote drugs to other doctors.
Making the announcement on Monday, chief executive Andrew Witty denied that the move was a response to the company’s current problems in China, where it is being investigated for bribing doctors and government officials in order to increase sales.
Harvard professor Dr. Jerry Avorn, one of the most vocal critics of the practice, praised the move.
“It’s a modest acknowledgement of the fact that learning from a doctor who is paid by a drug company to give a talk about its products isn’t the best way for doctors to learn about those products,” he told the New York Times.
Mr. Witty also said that GlaxoSmithKline would stop compensating sales representatives based on the number of prescriptions doctors wrote. In 2012, the company paid a record $3 billion in fines to resolve charges of drugs being marketed for unapproved uses.
Several other major pharma companies have settled similar cases, and it can be expected that others follow GlaxoSmithKline’s lead as all payments to doctors need to be made public next year under the requirements of Obamacare.