Interactions with prescribers

Healthcare professionals need access to high quality up-to-date information to help them make the best treatment choices for their patients.

As a company that develops and makes many medicines and vaccines, we have an important role to play in providing accurate information about the risks and benefits of our products to Healthcare professionals (HCPs).  In addition to our approved product labelling, we also make public our clinical trial data and share safety information with prescribers. Our sales professionals provide information directly to HCPs about our medicines and vaccines and the conditions they are approved to treat.

As well providing information about our products, we, alongside other healthcare companies, have supported medical education programmes that provide HCPs with the latest information on disease, diagnosis and treatment. Traditionally, this support has included providing direct financial support to enable HCPs to attend medical conferences to hear about new discoveries, the latest evidence for treatments or advances in care.

Recognising that HCPs also value hearing from their peers, companies have also engaged medical professionals to talk on their behalf about approved uses of their medicines. In keeping with professional relationships, these HCPs have typically received a fee for their time and expertise.

Increasingly, we believe people may question whether a conflict of interest exists in the relationship where payments are made to HCPs to speak on a company's behalf, or where financial support is given directly to help HCPs attend medical conferences.

We know that HCPs make independent decisions. But even the perception of a conflict of interest can undermine the trust that patients have in the information about medicines being provided to them by their doctors, and we must work to safeguard against that.

In December 2013, we announced three significant new measures to change the way we sell and market our medicines to HCPs.

Introducing new compensation for sales professionals: We have made good progress and from 1 January 2015, no customer facing GSK Pharma sales professionals or their managers are being financially incentivised based on individual sales targets. Sales professionals are now incentivised based on their technical knowledge, the quality of service they deliver to HCPs to support improved patient care and a broader set of business performance measures. We expect this new sales compensation model to play a role in building trust with HCPs and other key stakeholders worldwide.

Delivering independent medical education in new ways: We are changing how we support education for doctors. We will fund third party suppliers of independent medical education to provide evidence based educational programmes to HCPs at ‘arms length’ from GSK, with no GSK influence on content, speaker, faculty or audience selection. GSK will also stop providing financial support directly to individual HCPs to attend scientific conferences.

Stopping direct payments to HCPs to speak on our behalf: We’re stopping the practice of paying HCPs to speak on our behalf about our prescription medicines to other HCPs. Instead, we’re developing new digital, personal and real-time applications to deliver appropriate information to healthcare professionals. We’ll make sure the expert medical doctors we have within GSK have more time to talk with and answer questions about our medicines with their peers. They will be responsible for providing the right information to support the appropriate use of our medicines.

These changes will be introduced worldwide by 2016; while they are being introduced, we will continue to disclose any payments we do make to HCPs where such requirements exist. These payments must be appropriate for the services and expertise provided to us, must not be excessive, and never be an inducement or reward for prescribing our products.

HCPs will remain valuable partners for GSK, and beyond 2016 we will continue to pay HCPs for certain non-promotional activities that we could not do without them. These include: 

  • conducting GSK-sponsored clinical research
  • advisory activities and market research which provide us with essential insights on specific diseases.