In a connected world, where expectations of customers, patients and society are changing, GSK has to continue to be regarded as a trusted source for high-quality, balanced, objective information that is available to healthcare professionals when they need it, in the way they want it.
While I am sure this is the ambition of everyone in our sector, we realised that the approaches of the past won’t work for the future and to achieve this we needed to redefine the way we work with healthcare professionals.
Government, our customers, nongovernmental organisations and the public are increasing their scrutiny of the way the pharmaceutical sector conducts its business, demanding from us the highest level of integrity. They want to know that we can be depended upon to provide fair, balanced and objective information about our science and our products; and that the way we work with healthcare professionals about our medicines and vaccines does not create any real or perceived conflict of interest.
The world is already changing. New rules come into effect this year for all members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), which includes our UK trade body the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), where the payments made to healthcare professionals are to be disclosed individually by name. This includes speaker fees, consultancy services, advisory boards and sponsorship to attend medical education meetings. Payments to healthcare organisations, such as donations and grants, will also have to have to be disclosed. Until now only the overall numbers have been published.
The first disclosures will be made by the end of June. At GSK UK, we are pragmatically embracing these changes, but also aim to go one step further.
Following our 300th year of operating in the UK, in one form or another, GSK is determined once again in our aim to lead the way in forming stronger ties with the healthcare community. This was underlined in December 2013 when it was announced that globally we will stop direct payments to healthcare professionals for speaking engagements and for attending medical conferences. For us, this is a move to ensure that when our prescription-only medicines are concerned, all interactions with healthcare professionals are governed by our values of transparency, respect, integrity and patient focus. It is entirely reasonable for a patient who sees the name of their doctor on the list of those who have received money from a company to wonder whether that influenced the choice of the medicine that was prescribed to them.
Central to our people being regarded as a trusted source for high-quality, balanced, objective information has been to change the way we incentivise our salesforce. We are now approaching the first anniversary of the ending of incentives based on individual sales targets. The logic for the change was simple. No healthcare professional regards him or herself as a buyer or our medicines and vaccines, so we needed to remove any perception that a successful visit is one were ‘we make a sale’.
By Matt Boom, National Sales Director, GSK UK Pharmaceuticals.