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Friday, June 3, 2011

End of the line for the gravy train?

Pharma giant AstraZeneca will no longer fund doctors' travel to medical congresses, becoming the first leading drugmaker to renounce this common perk.

Announcing the step at an industry conference in Istanbul, CEO David Brennan said that pharma "is a force for good. But if we're honest with ourselves ... we’re often seen as the bad guys."

He cited a recent Harris poll in the U.S., which found that only 11% of Americans rated big pharma as trustworthy, when even banks had scored 20%. The same poll also found, though he didn't mention it, that pharma, along with oil, was the industry Americans most wanted to regulate more strictly.

His company had resolved to address the problem by "never doing anything that could be misinterpreted," said Mr Brennan. "We have decided that we will no longer pay for doctors to attend international scientific and medical congresses but will instead focus our educational efforts on local educational opportunities for healthcare professionals."

He added an interesting take on the doctor/pharm rep relationship from the other side of the fence: "I know from my own experience as a sales representative, you will encounter people who will ask for gifts, or other inducements. And they will threaten to take their business elsewhere, if you don’t acquiesce ... we have made it clear that our sales force have to say no."

It's likely that other pharma companies will follow AstraZeneca's lead. The industry acted in a fairly coordinated manner in abandoning free gits like mugs and mousepads in recent years. And the announcement carries extra significance because Brennan, the only leading pharm CEO to come from a background in sales rather than medicine or chemistry, is also president of the the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.

The drug industry has come under pressure recently over dealings abroad, particularly with employees of foreign public health services, including doctors. AstraZeneca and other British companies have had to contend with a new bribery act in the UK, while in the United States has been investigating big pharma under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Johnson & Johnson paid $78 million last month to settle British and American charges that it paid kickbacks to win business overseas. AstraZeneca itself is being investigated under FCPA for its dealings in China.

86 comments:

  1. purley quirt ( aka sharon)June 4, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Without getting into the classic " I'm the king of the castle... and you're the dirty rascal" types of discussions around this......

    ... let's look at "what is really going on"....

    someone...somewhere... has discovered the point of "exponential growth" for $ in the world of Pharma...

    That point is the " automatic" ordering and reordering of medications.

    Any unchecked state that repeats. .does so exponentially ( 2,4,8,16,32,63,etc.).

    Pharma once did this in an "aggregated" system and MILLIONS of dollars in profit resulted...then..... technology permitted it in an "integrated" system and BILLIONS of dollars in profit resulted.

    Anyone in the value chain could link to this " automatic" world and have their income also grow exponentially.... physicians demanding $ for each repeat prescription; pharmacists switching to automatic dispensing machines (happening as we speak next door to an E.R. near you);.......

    ........ and let's not forget the HUGE value in making the patient " drug dependent" by making every facet of life a "drug dependent disorder"...

    Q- is " pharma" the only bad guy here?

    Q- what can stop this geometric growth?

    A- create an interruption.... like inserting a demand on the (key) automatic events linked to Pharma

    Q- what would that demand look like?
    A- proof of outcomes ( NOTE: outcomes are not the same as "cure")

    Q- who would enforce the demand?
    A- the funder

    Q- do you mean if the funder (key) had small pockets.. AND... :
    was given the power over the allotted funds for ? drugs ......they might:
    + drive the price down ,
    + broaden the selection,
    +stimulate the production of generics,
    +get better service from the supplier.....
    +restore power of real governance by breaking the power of false governance?

    Q- who has the smaller pockets... patient.... or government?

    Q- yikes...... is this why Pharma is "all of a sudden" repentant, ?humble confessional,.........?converted....???????

    A- yup... yup... yup.... :)

    [ watch for "fungibility" to impact a Pharma supplier near you ]

    Of course... the only cure for this dilemma is..."consumer loyalty" ( versus provider loyalty) ......hmmmmmmmm...

    ..... watch for perks... promises ( because we love you best)..... and pretty packaging........perhaps even joining an evaluation club......oooooooh- that's a magnet........ hmmmmmmm.

    Pharma.... you dirty rascal... you! ( oops I promised not to do that..... ;p)

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