Deborah Waterhouse, General Manager of GlaxoSmithKline Australia, turns up the heat on her rival pharma companies, challenging them to follow the lead of GSK in disclosing any payments they make to doctors. She writes…
Three months ago GSK became the first pharmaceutical company in Australia to disclose the aggregate amount of fees paid to Australian healthcare professionals and health-related organisations for all sponsorships, grants, speaking engagements and consulting services.
And now I hope it’s time for industry as a whole to follow and commit to even greater transparency by including the disclosure of payments made to doctors in the next edition of the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct.
Being first with an announcement like this made it impossible to predict what the broader reaction might be…..
So we issued our media release and we waited for the reaction….
As it transpired, the reaction and commentary was overwhelmingly positive. But did we go far enough?
While the move was described as “showing leadership” and some said they hoped “other companies would follow this lead’ many commentators were keen for the industry to move toward the disclosure of detailed individual information.
My own view? I agree. I think all pharmaceutical companies should disclose payments made to doctors on an individual basis. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
Healthcare professionals bring expert knowledge and perspectives from their clinical experience which they share with companies such as GSK and other healthcare professionals, to support improvements in patient care. It’s all about changing people’s lives through sharing knowledge and understanding the latest healthcare developments.
Reporting more fully on the payments we make to HCPs is one way in which we aim to address medical and wider community concerns, as well as increase understanding around how the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare providers work together to build medical knowledge and advance patient care.
But making a step to individual disclosure cannot be made in isolation and the views and concerns of healthcare professionals must be heard as well as other interested parties.
This is a long term project for us and, to be honest, we feel pretty good about the initial public and industry reaction to this first phase.
But it is early days and the issue of disclosure reaches into many parts of our business. GSK has established a publicly accessible clinical trials register and a list of the patient groups we provide funding to. And we are working towards greater disclosure of our relationship with researchers in the context of clinical trials. GSK will be making announcements about this in 2012.
But what of the broader pharmaceutical industry in Australia? What prospects are there for increasing and consistent transparency across the whole sector, rather than leaving it to individual companies to establish their own position?
Well we have the opportunity now. The Medicines Australia Code of Conduct is under review.
GSK will be sending a submission to Medicines Australia, in which we will be requesting provisions for greater disclosure of the commercial relationships with healthcare professionals.
And we encourage anyone else that shares these views to do the same.
Note: to report an adverse event please call GSK Medical Information on 1800 033 109