Company no longer giving payouts to Drs

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Last November, News 4 reported that more than 200 Western New York doctors have earned more than $6 million from drug companies since 2009.

Now one of the major pharmaceutical companies has decided to eliminate physician payouts. Glaxo Smith Kline will stop paying doctors to promote its products at speaking engagements.

The company’s CEO says he’s making the move to protect patients’ interests. Patient advocates call the announcement “progress.”

After hearing the news, Niagara Health Quality Coalition President Bruce Boissonnault said he “hopes other companies will see the wisdom to follow Glaxo Smith Kline’s lead.”

News 4 interviewed Boissonnault as part of our “Dollars for Docs” report. He told us then:

“We all know the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And the prevention is let’s put systems in place that prevent the science of medicine from being overly influenced by the marketing of medicine.”

Physician payments from pharmaceutical companies have come under scrutiny in recent months. News 4 Investigates looked into what was happening locally after journalists at Pro Publica compiled data and created a Dollars for Docs database.

How much drug companies pay doctors fees for consulting and speaking to other doctors was made public by ProPublica.  News 4 compiled a list of some 200 Western New York doctors who received more than $6 million in payments between 2009 and 2012.  You can search that list below.

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Boissonnault said, “Now we can see how money is spent and make our assessments, not only as individual patients, but as hospitals, research centers, health insurance companies. Is it affecting the science of medicine in ways that it shouldn’t?”

By 2016, Glaxo Smith Kline says it will cut physician payments for speaking engagements. It’s also implementing a new compensation system for sales reps and eliminating any sales “targets.”

CEO Andrew Witty issued a statement saying: “We recognize that we have an important role to play in providing doctors with information about our medicines, but this must be done clearly, transparently and without any perception of conflict of interest.”

The company will continue to pay docs for their work on clinical trials and research.

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