Major pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced this week that they will soon discontinue their practice of paying doctors to promote their drugs to patients.

The U.K.-based company said they will also remove “individual sales targets” for their salesman as part of their plan to revamp their marketing strategies.

“The company will move to end the practice of paying healthcare professionals to speak on its behalf, about its products or disease areas, to audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing,” said GSK in a statement released Dec. 17.

“GSK will also stop providing financial support directly to individual healthcare professionals to attend medical conferences and instead will fund education for healthcare professionals through unsolicited, independent educational grant routes.”

The move comes 18 months after the drug giant pleaded guilty to fraud and paid $3 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, its failure to report certain safety data, and its civil liability for alleged false price reporting practices, according to the Justice Department.

The action was the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history and the largest payment ever by a drug company.

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK said that the move to stop paying healthcare professionals to promote prescriptions and attend conferences is an effort to better respond to the needs of patients and inform doctors “clearly, transparently, and without any perception of conflict of interest.”

The company said that in 2014 sales representatives will receive compensation based on evaluations that assess “technical knowledge, the quality of the service they deliver to support improved patient care and the overall performance of GSK’s business.”

The new compensation plan is to replace current methods in GSK offices globally by the beginning of 2015.

By 2016, the company projects that all payments to healthcare professionals for their marketing services will end.

Instead, the company said it plans to further develop other avenues to market, with heightened focus on the use of digital marketing.

According to 2012 GSK annual reports, the company employs roughly 99,488 individuals worldwide selling vaccines, prescription drugs and consumer healthcare products. More than 17,000 of that number are U.S. citizens.

GSK did not respond to requests for comment.


Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer