Fierce PharmaMarketingBy Tracy StatonApril 7, 2014
GlaxoSmithKline [$GSK] says it’s rolling out sales and marketing reforms around the world. Apparently, the changes come none too soon. The British drugmaker opened another bribery investigation, this time in Iraq, to check out allegations that it paid government-employed physicians to promote its products. And Glaxo hasn’t yet finished working through the scandalous Chinese bribery allegations that kicked off an industry-wide corruption crackdown.
So, CEO Andrew Witty and his team sound a bit … conflicted. On the one hand, Witty sounds the perfectly contrite corporate leader. He apologized for the marketing allegations that ended with a $3 billion Department of Justice settlements. He’s promised good behavior and touted those worldwide sales reforms. But on the other, the company is digging into at least two sets of corruption accusations, and faces related repercussions at home and in the U.S. Two bribery probes in two different geographic divisions? That’s a systemic problem.
When the Chinese bribery scandal hit, Glaxo’s U.K. headquarters was quick to say that head-office executives didn’t know about any malfeasance in its China subsidiary. That may be so. But if HQ didn’t know, that means HQ was either turning a blind eye or failing to pay enough attention. Either way, that’s not a good thing for a company trying to clean up its image.
If Witty really wants to reform GSK, then he and his top managers need to move beyond plausible deniability. They can’t just launch new quota-free sales-rep compensation and promise to stop paying speaking fees to doctors in the U.S. and beyond. Painful follow-through has to happen.We need to see Glaxo execs take out their brooms, and move into global operations to sweep out misbehavior. If they don’t, whistleblowers and government investigators will. And that makes all those the sales-and-marketing changes look like little more than window-dressing.
New York TimesBy MELODY PETERSENAugust 3, 2003
Two scientists are raising concerns about an article in a medical journal that described experimental treatments for depression because an author did not disclose his significant financial ties to three therapies that he mentioned favorably. The executive editor of the journal said it had not required disclosure of the potential conflicts, but was considering changing its policy in light of the criticism. The ties between pharmaceutical companies and researchers have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.The lead author of the article, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff, chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, said he would have reported the conflicts of interest, which include owning the patent on a treatment he mentioned, if the journal had asked him to. ”I have always been totally compliant, probably gone overboard, with disclosure,” Dr. Nemeroff said. ”If there is a fault here, it is with the journal’s policy.”
The Wall Street JournalBy David ArmstrongJuly 19, 2006
Charles Nemeroff, one of the nation’s most prominent psychiatrists, edits the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, which this month favorably reviewed a controversial new treatment for depression. But Tuesday, the journal said it plans to publish a correction because it failed to cite the ties of the article’s eight academic authors to the company that makes the treatment, including the article’s lead author: Dr. Nemeroff.The journal’s nondisclosure of the financial ties of its own editor as well as those of the other authors highlights the failure of many respected medical journals to identify relationships between academic researchers and medical companies that may benefit from positive research reports. A spate of recent lapses is prompting calls for more journals to ban offending authors from publication. In addition, medical schools are being urged to regulate relationships between their researchers and industry more closely…
I was a retired person before I was capable of believing that Doctors, Academic Department Chairmen, and Pharmaceutical Companies named after long-dead men with handle-bar mustaches were capable of the kind of deceit we’ve all seen in recent decades – but our naivety has given way to, at the least, a careful suspiciousness, even paranoia about such matters. And GSK has placed itself in a goldfish bowl that’s going to be hard to escape.