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GSK to hire doctors as product champions

Will use in-house personnel instead of external speakers to present information

GlaxoSmithKline GSK 

GlaxoSmithKline will use in-house doctors and scientists rather than external speakers to present information about its products, in another shake-up of its sales and marketing operations.

In an interview with Bloomberg, GSK's US head Deirdre Connelly said the in-house medics - as well as specialist scientists - would be employed so the company can meet its objective of stopping all funding to healthcare professionals (HCPs)  for giving speeches or attending medical conferences by early 2016.

GSK has undertaken a major overhaul of its commercial operations since it agreed a $3bn settlement in the US in 2012 amid allegations of illegal marketing practices for antidepressants Paxil (paroxetine) and Wellbutrin (bupropion) and a failure to report safety data for diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone).

Connelly said that using in-house specialists to present medical information about its products made its educational activities more transparent and would negate any suggestion that the company might be engaged in any dubious practices.

The move means that GSK will not have to disclose payments to external HCPs as required by the US Sunshine Act, but could also mean that the educational messages delivered will lose a measure of credibility as those delivering them will no longer be practicing physicians, according to Bloomberg.

Nevertheless, the company is clearly making strenuous efforts to get on the reputational front foot again in the wake of the US settlement and ongoing allegations of bribery and corrupt practices in China.

Other recent changes implemented by GSK include doing away with individual sales targets for its reps, and instead paying them on the basis of technical knowledge, customer evaluations and the overall performance of the business unit they represent.  

Initially rolled out in the US and UK, the new sales regime will be rolled out to other countries over the course of this year. At the time the sales initiative was announced, GSK also said it would continue to support doctors via independent educational grants rather than direct payments.

Article by
Phil Taylor

19th March 2014

From: Marketing

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