Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Glaxo to Pay First Woman CEO Less, Cites Lack of Experience

Glaxo to Pay First Woman CEO Less, Cites Lack of Experience | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Emma Walmsley, poised to take over as the first female chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline Plc, will earn about a quarter less than her predecessor Andrew Witty to reflect her lack of experience at the helm.


Walmsley will be paid an annual base salary of about 1 million pounds ($1.2 million), the London-based drugmaker said in its annual report. That compares to Witty’s pay of 1.15 million pounds last year. Her targeted bonus doesn’t exceed her salary, whereas Witty was given the opportunity to collect 125 percent of his pay through the bonus.


The lower compensation, for a woman who is breaking the gender barrier to become the first female to manage one of the world’s top 25 pharmaceutical companies, is likely to re-ignite a debate on the pay gap between the sexes. But it isn’t unusual that compensation levels change when a new CEO takes office as boards seek to link pay packages to the person’s level of experience and tenure.


“This is the moment to reassess the executive pay structure,” said Stefan Stern, director of the High Pay Centre, a think tank on top U.K. executive remuneration. “It’s good to focus on the contribution from the new person and it’s good to be tough and pay somebody less than their predecessor if their CV is at a different stage.”


Further Reading:

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Up Until Now, GSK Bet on Vaccines Rather than Trendy Immuno-Oncology Cancer Treatments

Up Until Now, GSK Bet on Vaccines Rather than Trendy Immuno-Oncology Cancer Treatments | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Bucking biopharma’s trend in 2014, GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty swapped off his oncology assets to Novartis, building his company’s position in vaccines and consumer healthcare instead.


Fast-forward to the future. After taking flak from prominent investors, Witty continues to defend the logic—and in recent quarters, he's had the numbers to back up that contention. He continues to make the case that high-priced treatments don't make business sense in the long run.


Consider immuno-oncology. Speaking Tuesday at the opening of GSK’s Rockville, Maryland, vaccine research site, Witty said that he doesn’t see pricey immunotherapies for cancer, now biopharma’s hottest field, as a “cost-effective … global healthcare solution.”


To back up his point, Witty said the number of patients treated by the last 20 top-selling pharma products has dropped “catastrophically” in recent decades.


“A blockbuster drug of the '80s probably treated tens or hundreds of millions. In the '90s it was tens of millions, and now you are into tens of thousands," he said. "Vaccines are going the other way.”


Witty said believes the returns to shareholders are “very similar” for vaccines and pharmaceuticals. What’s different is the shape of the return curves.



With vaccines, a business with high barriers to entry driven by volume on a lower price point, companies can eke out similar profits, the CEO said.


By focusing on vaccines and consumer healthcare, Witty bet GSK’s future on lower-margin businesses in a move that so far seems to have paid off. Pricing pressure has taken a toll on the pharmaceutical industry, and GSK’s vaccines have outperformed other units in the second and third quarters this year.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Witty said that he doesn’t see pricey immunotherapies for cancer, now biopharma’s hottest field, as a “cost-effective … global healthcare solution.”


It's interesting that Witty used "global" to qualify his remark. In the U.S. a pharma company can usually charge what the market will bear. Therefore, I don't see GSK giving up that lucrative market especially after the 21st Century Act has been signed into law.


Related article: “When Does It Makes Economic Sense for #Pharma Industry to Develop Vaccines vs Drugs?”:

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Merck Uses Humor & Fear to Promote Zostavax Shingles Vaccine

Merck Uses Humor & Fear to Promote Zostavax Shingles Vaccine | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Are you the type of consumer motivated by fear? Or are you more likely to take action based on advice from a humorous celeb? Doesn't matter--Merck & Co., in a push to boost vaccine sales before new competition arrives, has a shingles commercial for you.


The company is currently airing two ad types that couldn't be more different from one another. In one--dubbed "Surprise Door Knock"--NFL analyst and former quarterback Terry Bradshaw barges into the home of a trio of adults to explain with gusto the nasty effects of shingles and caution them to ask their doctors for more info.


"We all in?" he asks, as they pile their hands atop each other's with a rousing chorus of "yes!" "Good--'cause if not, we're gonna watch highlights of my career 12 hours straight. I know--talk about pain!" he says with a laugh.


Merck's other currently running spots are much more serious and somber. "Day #7 with Shingles" and "Day #18 with Shingles" each depict a sufferer trying to go about his daily life. One struggles through a dismal day at the office thanks to shingles pain, and the other gives up on a game of golf because of it, while a colleague and friend go one-on-one with the camera to express their concerns.


The one thing the ads all have in common? Graphic depictions of the condition, which can cause unsightly rashes and blistering of the skin. And, of course, pain.


Merck has good reason to want to reach a broad spectrum of adults with its awareness push. Fellow vaccine behemoth GlaxoSmithKline has a shingles candidate, Shingrix, coming up the pipeline, and when it's finally ready to roll, the British company expects it to be a "major market disrupter" for Merck's Zostavax.


Pharma Guy's insight:

I updated my "Gallery of Scary Pharma Industry Advertising" PPT on Slideshare to include these ads (see


Which brand name is more memorable:  Zostavax or Shingrix? It seems to me that consumers are not likely to remember either name - not that it matters much if there is not much difference in effectiveness. 

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Big Bad Cough TV Commercial by @GSK Mispronounces Whooping!

Drawing from the classic children’s tale of Little Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Cough campaign features a wolf disguised as a grandmother interacting closely with her new grandchild. The wolf represents the hidden danger of whooping cough, carried unknowingly by the grandmother.

The Big Bad Cough initiative launched in April 2015 with print and online advertising and was followed by TV ads in June. We are hopeful that this campaign will bring greater awareness to adults, especially new grandparents, so that they can talk to their doctor or pharmacist about whooping cough and vaccination. We have also communicated our support for this important public health issue to the CDC and other key public health stakeholders.


[I received this comment from a retired nursing instructor:


"In regards to the add about whooping cough from Please have this add corrected if you have anything to do with marketing it. The add is mispronouncing whooping. The add pronounces it with "wh" such as whoopee. The w is suppose to be silent. The add sounds terribly ignorant. It has been pronounced as "hooping" cough for generations. Please do not change it. Just because it is spelled "wh" does not mean it has to be pronounced that way. There are other English words in which the w is silent such as "who" and "whose"."


Ha Ha!]

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Struggling Vaccines From Novartis Turn Into Sales Boon for Glaxo

Struggling Vaccines From Novartis Turn Into Sales Boon for Glaxo | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Outbreaks of the meningitis B disease in the U.S., along with the social-media frenzy that followed the death of a British toddler, have helped propel sales of GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s vaccine well past initial projections for its use.


The U.K. drugmaker is poised to deliver nine times the 2016 sales Novartis AG had forecast for vaccines including the meningitis B shot Bexsero, said Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer at Glaxo’s vaccines division. Glaxo acquired the business in March 2015, and revenue for vaccines last year was five times what Novartis had estimated, Breuer said.


Glaxo negotiated a price with the U.K. that paved the way for the world’s first infant immunization program using Bexsero last year. Fresh efficacy and safety data from that program are set to be presented next month at a conference in Manchester, England. That may persuade the U.S. and other countries to start their own mass vaccination campaigns against the rare but serious infection.


“When this new evidence becomes available, public health agencies will re-evaluate,” Breuer said. “But I don’t want to make any predictions.”


Meningitis B infection can cause devastating effects in children and young adults including brain damage and loss of limbs. There have been seven college outbreaks in the U.S. since 2009, with one this year at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The death of a British girl in February and the photographs of her that went viral spurred public demand for wider vaccination in the U.K.


In the U.S., where the majority of meningitis B cases occur in older teenagers and young adults, the vaccine is approved for people ages 10 to 25. In Europe, it’s approved for use in children aged two months and older. The U.K.’s National Health Service covers vaccination for infants under 1.


Glaxo is exploring ways to expand the use of the vaccine, including a large study to test whether Bexsero can prevent carriage of meningitis B in teenagers, who frequently have the bacteria in the backs of their nose and throat.       

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read, “Vaccines Are Path to Better Revenue Growth for Some #Pharma Companies”;


Meanwhile, Pfizer is attempting to encroach on GSK’s Meningitis B territory with its own vaccine, Trumenba. For more on that, read “Branded as Well As Unbranded Vaccine Ads Are the Scariest!”; 

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GSK Scouts for Candidates to Replace CEO Witty: @Pharmaguy Rebuffs Offer

GSK Scouts for Candidates to Replace CEO Witty: @Pharmaguy Rebuffs Offer | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

GlaxoSmithKline is casting about for a new CEO. Amid shareholder pressure for a breakup or shake-up or both, the company reportedly has asked its headhunting firm to put together a short list of candidates to replace current chief Andrew Witty.

Investors are restless: GSK has suffered a series of blows to its reputation and its income statement. Over the past three years, the company has agreed to pay $3 billion to settle a variety of marketing and manufacturing allegations from the U.S. Department of Justice and almost $500 million to wrap up a bribery scandal in China. Witty's work to rebuild GSK's reputation included an overhaul of sales-rep compensation that some blame for the slow launch of respiratory drugs the company needs to replace the aging--and ailing--Advair. That behemoth drug, long GSK's top seller, has seen sales slump dramatically since last year on generic competition and tough negotiations with U.S. payers.

Pharma Guy's insight:

This just in:

Pharmaguy Rebuffs GSK’s CEO Offer
Sources close to the situation say that Pharmaguy, the 59-year-old blogger and pundit, rebuffed an offer to run GSK., the British pharmaceutical giant. 

"I have other mountains to climb,”" said Pharmaguy, according to these sources.

When asked about the situation, Pharmaguy would not specifically comment on the GSK offer, but did say he planned to climb the 8,611m K2, the world’'s second highest mountain located on the border of Pakistan and China, in June.  “

"One Great Mountain is enough for me,”" said Pharmaguy. As an aside, he noted that K2 is much more of a challenge than Denali, a 20,000-foot peak in Alaska. “I understand that Witty will be climbing Denali at about the same time. Of course, he is less physically fit than I am, so I think that mountain is appropriate for him.”

"I think everybody views GSK as an extraordinary management challenge," said an anonymous analyst. "Everyone's going to want to see a real athlete named to the job."

Finding an athlete who is not already committed to climbing another mountain, however, may not be easy. Ian Read, chief executive of Pfizer, for example, may need a new job soon. But he’ is booked to climb Kangchenjunga, the 8,586m Nepal peak, this fall.

Asked about an approach to Pharmaguy, a GSK spokesman said, "The company doesn't comment on rumor and speculation."
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GSK "Sunshine Blocks" Outside Docs: No More $ For You!

GSK "Sunshine Blocks" Outside Docs: No More $ For You! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said Monday, effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest.

The announcement appears to be a first for a major drug company — although others may be considering similar moves — and it comes at a particularly sensitive time for Glaxo. It is the subject of a bribery investigation in China, where authorities contend the company funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in an effort to lift drug sales.

Andrew Witty, Glaxo’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview Monday that its proposed changes were unrelated to the investigation in China, and were part of a yearslong effort “to try and make sure we stay in step with how the world is changing,” he said. “We keep asking ourselves, are there different ways, more effective ways of operating than perhaps the ways we as an industry have been operating over the last 30, 40 years?”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Re: GSK in China, read "GSK, GSK, GSK: TSK, TSK, TSK!"; 

Meanwhile, you can find some numbers regarding GSK's payments to physicians here: "Pharma Begins to Reveal Payments to Physicians"; 

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Drugmaker GlaxoSmikthKline closes plant due to Legionnaire's bacteria

Drugmaker GlaxoSmikthKline closes plant due to Legionnaire's bacteria | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline shut down a plant Tuesday that produces inhaled medications after discovering the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

The manufacturing plant in Zebulon, about 25 miles east of Raleigh, was closed after routine testing found the bacteria in a self-standing cooling tower. About 400 of the 850 employees who work in Zebulon were told to stay away until the towers are cleaned, officials for the London-based company said.

It told CBS Raleigh affiliate WRAL-TV the entire campus, which has several buildings, wasn't shut down - only the main site. 

The company said in a statement that the cooling tower "does not come into contact with product manufactured at the facility."

Glaxo did not respond to questions about whether there was any risk of indoor exposure to employees or medicines from water droplets that could carry the bacteria.

"We are trying to gather information on what the situation is," spokeswoman Jenni Brewer Ligday said. Testing is conducted every three months, but the company was seeking "more details on whether product has been impacted and, if they have, what is our procedure in place to handle that."

The plant produces inhaled drugs like Advair, a drug for asthma, and contracts with other pharmaceutical companies to produce their drugs.

The Food and Drug Administration was checking into reports of the bacteria's discovery and a spokesman said questions should be directed to GlaxoSmithKline.

Pharma Guy's insight:

While the statement "the cooling tower does not come into contact with product manufactured at the facility" is technically accurate, the real question is whether particulates from the cooling tower have come into contact with the drugs manufactured there. I suppose, however, that you cannot get Legionnaire's disease from ingesting contaminated tablets. 

GSK further explained according to the WSJ: "According to the company, the towers are located in a separate area from the structures where the drugs are manufactured and where its employees work. Production at the plant is expected to resume after the towers have been cleaned and disinfected."


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Overuse, Safety Questions Cloud Advair’s Ascent to Asthma Blockbuster

Overuse, Safety Questions Cloud Advair’s Ascent to Asthma Blockbuster | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |
Millions of Americans use GlaxoSmithKline's purple inhaler. But whether Advair poses a higher risk of asthma-related death remains uncertain 15 years after regulators approved the drug.

On an April day in 2001, more than 2,000 Glaxo salespeople flocked to the Paris Las Vegas hotel for events to launch Advair. Spotlights swirled and the room glowed purple, matching a giant replica of the drug's inhaler.

Jim Daly, the Glaxo manager nicknamed "Mr. Advair," took the stage sporting a purple tie. "There are people in this room who are going to make an ungodly sum of money selling Advair," he told the cheering throng.

The 50 salespeople who persuaded physicians to prescribe the most Advair would get $10,000 bonuses on top of healthy commissions.

"I think we can make some millionaires out there," declared Glaxo's then-president of pharmaceutical operations, David Stout.

Stan Hull, the company's senior vice president at the time, rhetorically asked the crowd, "What patient is not appropriate for Advair?"

Pharma Guy's insight:

An interesting story, especially regarding how difficult it is for patients to learn about drug safety issues. While every drug has side effects, patients need to be aware of emerging safety issues of the drugs they are prescribed - doctors too. Patients can no longer depend on their doctors to know all the facts.

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John v John: Ex-Pfizer Exec LaMattina Lays Into John Oliver & Takes a Cheap Shot at Medical Journalists

John v John: Ex-Pfizer Exec LaMattina Lays Into John Oliver & Takes a Cheap Shot at Medical Journalists | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

[Oliver] took on the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing practices, starting with the people who talk directly to doctors, the pharmaceutical reps. He claimed that all reps are physical beauties, his source for this information being the TV comedy, Scrubs. Actually, during the segment he showed comments from five different former pharmaceutical reps all of whom are quite ordinary looking. Maybe this is why they are ex-reps. He went on to say that these reps are not necessarily trained in science but could, in fact, have been political science majors, implying that these folks have no business being in doctors’ offices talking about medicines. Here he does a disservice to thousands of people. Over my Pfizer career I met many reps who are extremely intelligent. Not all of them were science majors in college, but they undergo months of intense training when first hired to learn about the basics of the drugs that they will be promoting. I would argue that the training they receive puts them on a par with many people who comment or write about medicines for major news outlets.

Finally, if I were a physician, I would be quite offended by the parody that Oliver used at the end of his segment. He makes doctors appear to be nitwits who are easily influenced by the lure of a sales rep bearing goodies. In his view, doctors are corrupt and their prescribing practices are governed by payments and perks from pharmaceutical companies. Do people think so little of doctors that they believe this?

Pharma Guy's insight:

I like the "when did you stop beating your wife" defense of GSK:

"Oliver then shows clips taken from a GSK launch meeting for a new drug. There is no doubt that this meeting was over the top and, in trying to motivate the reps, leaders talked about how the most successful reps would make a lot of money. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear Oliver say that this meeting occurred in 2001. But my guess is that the vast majority of viewers missed that point. That’s unfortunate, as Oliver clearly omitted the fact that in 2013, GSK made a major change to its policy for compensation to its reps."

True that, but what about more recent GSK shenanigans? As in: 

In 2012, GSK agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges of illegally marketing drugs -- including Avandia -- and withholding safety data from U.S. regulators, and to pay $3 billion to the government in what the Justice Department at the time called the largest health-care fraud settlement in U.S. history (here).

Regarding physicians: Most physicians do not seem to know that "there is no such thing as a free lunch." Medscape's 2012 Ethics Report survey, for example, revealed that 72% of 23,710 physician respondents answered "Yes" to the question "Do you feel that you could be unbiased with prescribing habits if you accept lunches from pharmaceutical representatives?" (see here).

But, according to other researchers, such thinking is a "slippery slope" on which "Physicians fail to recognize their vulnerability to commercial influences due to self-serving bias, rationalization, and cognitive dissonance" (see "Physicians Under Pharma's Influence: Are Physicians Powerless Pawns of Pharma Psychology?").

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Another Drug Ad Mascot: The Prevacid24 Animated Flame “Lurker”

Another Drug Ad Mascot: The Prevacid24 Animated Flame “Lurker” | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

There’s a new spokescharacter lurking around for Prevacid24. The animated ball of fire with a mischievous glint in its eye is the Lurker, and it's popping up in TV, digital and trade ads, and promotions for the heartburn-relieving drug.

In the TV ad that launched earlier this month, the character hides in the bushes as two women drink coffee and chat as they eat lunch on a nearby bench. The flame with legs never talks. It just giggles as it chases off one of the women, who didn’t take her heartburn medicine.

“Our Lurker character was developed to communicate the risk of recurrence of frequent heartburn,” a GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare spokeswoman said via email. “We explored several creative options and decided on the Lurker due to its ability to convey the idea in a truly engaging manner.”

Deutsch Inc. created the campaign; the target audience is people with frequent heartburn, which is defined as two or more days per week. GlaxoSmithKline licenses Prevacid from Takeda Pharmaceuticals.


See more drug ad mascots here...

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GSK's "Ethical" Sales Model: Is It a #Pharma Oxymoron?

GSK's "Ethical" Sales Model: Is It a #Pharma Oxymoron? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

GSK’s move to a new model of customer engagement has generated a great deal of debate. Indeed, many commentators remain skeptical that this ‘ethical’ model – especially the decoupling of sales incentives from prescription volume isn’t robust enough to deliver results in the long-term.


A myriad of questions is being asked by onlookers: How does GSK incentivise its sales people now? How can it maintain its revenue and encourage growth? How has GSK implemented a change program on such a huge scale? In this white paper, eyeforpharma speaks to the experts, both GSK insiders and outside observers, asking (and answering) these fundamental questions and more. Most of all we ask – will GSK’s new transparent, reputation-boosting sales model be a template for the entire industry?

Pharma Guy's insight:

Related stories:

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GSK Investor Backlash Agianst 1st Woman Big #Pharma CEO - Are They Misogynists?

GSK Investor Backlash Agianst 1st Woman Big #Pharma CEO - Are They Misogynists? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

GlaxoSmithKline faces mounting investor anger over the promotion of the drugmaker’s consumer healthcare boss to the top job.


Some big shareholders in the FTSE 100 giant are understood to be unhappy with the decision to appoint Emma Walmsley to succeed Sir Andrew Witty as chief executive (read “Emma Walmsley - Believer in Digital - to Become CEO of GSK!”; ).


Her rise to the helm of the sixth-biggest company in the FTSE 100 has been hailed as a milestone in the push to increase the representation of women in boardrooms. As head of the £80bn pharmaceuticals giant, Ms Walmsley will be one of the most influential figures in British business.


However, some investors would have rather seen an external candidate appointed, and believe the promotion signals Ms Walmsley is unlikely to deviate from the strategy laid out by Sir Andrew.He had resisted investor pressure to bolster sales and profits by spinning off parts of the company.

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Emma Walmsley - Believer in Digital - to Become CEO of GSK!

Emma Walmsley - Believer in Digital - to Become CEO of GSK! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

GSK today announces that Emma Walmsley, currently Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GSK’s Consumer Healthcare division, is appointed GSK CEO Designate and will succeed Andrew Witty as GSK CEO, when he retires on 31March 2017. Emma will join the GSK Board of Directors from 1 January 2017.


Emma is currently CEO of GSK Consumer Healthcare, one of the world’s largest consumer health companies, established in 2015 following completion of GSK’s three-part transaction with Novartis.


Prior to this, Emma was President of GSK Consumer Healthcare and has been a member of GSK’s Corporate Executive Team since 2011.  Emma joined GSK in 2010 from L’Oreal where, over the course of her 17-year career, she held a variety of marketing and general management roles in the UK, Europe and USA. From 2007 she was based in Shanghai as General Manager, Consumer Products for L’Oreal China.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read: “Who will be the first female CEO in Big Pharma?”; I don't think Walmsley was mentioned,

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Do Payments to HCPs by #Pharma Threaten to Undermine Patient Trust?

Do Payments to HCPs by #Pharma Threaten to Undermine Patient Trust? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The following discussion was commissioned and controlled [LOL!] by the Guardian, funded by ABPI.


Virginia Acha, executive director, research, medical and innovation, ABPI: I trust my GP to be able to hear all of the comments and all of the information, and make a decision in my best interests. The main thing is to support that exploration of all of the facts and in a transparent way.


Dr Peter Gordon, campaigner for transparency in medicine: Science strives to be objective. Partnership with commercial interests risks putting the shareholders first.


Jeremy Taylor, chief executive, National Voices: The question is at what point health professionals would become embarrassed into disclosure. Suppose patients started using presence on the register as a criterion for choosing some professionals over others? [For more on that, read "“Patients May Leave Docs Who Prescribe Expensive Drugs & Take $ from #Pharma”;]


Gordon: The significant majority of healthcare workers, scientists and academics have never received payments from outside commercial interests. My worry is those that do – the key opinion leaders ... need not declare.


Dr Waheed Jamal, vice president – medical, Europe, GlaxoSmithKline: We have what we call a “no consent-no contract” policy to help make sure there is close to 100% individual-named disclosure in line with the EFPIA [European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations]/ABPI code. This means we will no longer work with healthcare professionals in future should they not give consent to disclose the payments that have been made.


David Eves, head of compliance, Chugai Pharma Marketing Ltd: The pros are that the development of any therapy will be more meaningful and add value to patient care in the UK. Without that interaction the decisions made regarding where a product may fit will hold less value.


Acha: I think the focus so far is on payments to healthcare professionals for their advice and work on specific projects (eg pre- and post-licensing advisory boards). Actually, a good share ... is related to supporting healthcare professionals to attend international congresses and other continuing medical education. This is vital to ensure that our healthcare professionals remain at the forefront of scientific debate. This helps everyone.



Pharma Guy's insight:

Related: “Most UK HCPs OK with Revealing #Pharma Payments to Docs, But...”;

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#Pharma Says "No!" to Following GSK's No-Speaker-Fee Policy

#Pharma Says "No!" to Following GSK's No-Speaker-Fee Policy | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

GlaxoSmithKline has taken some bold steps to polish its image, tarnished by a Chinese bribery scandal and $3 billion settlement with the U.S. government. But naysayers blame its first big moves--nixing sales-rep quotas and pegging bonuses to "softer" measures instead--for disappointing roll-outs for several new meds.

Now that it's dropping the time-tested tactic of paying doctors to promote its meds, critics are piling on there, too. But the U.K.-based drugmaker is sticking to its guns, recruiting its own doctors and other experts to tout its meds.

As the Financial Times reports, GSK execs promise that the new policy won't backfire on its drug sales. In fact, the company says its pharma rivals will eventually follow suit.

It's a major shift for GSK, which shelled out $15 million in speaking payments to doctors in 2014, little less than it did in 2013. In addition to seminars headlined by internal doctors, the company will be using an increasing number of webcasts to communicate with providers. The company told the FT that about 400,000 medical professionals participated in GSK-hosted webinars last year.

Since GSK first announced its no-payment policy--which went into effect Jan. 1--other Big Pharmas have addressed the question. Will they do the same? Several companies are on record with an unequivocal "No," saying that their doctor-speakers are important to their promotional efforts.

Pharma Guy's insight:

BackStory: "GSK 'Sunshine Blocks' Outside Docs: No More $ For You!"; 

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Victory for Open Clinical Trial Data Movement: GSK's Paroxetine Study Re-Analyzed

Victory for Open Clinical Trial Data Movement: GSK's Paroxetine Study Re-Analyzed | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Millions of young people were prescribed a common anti-depressant on the basis of a notorious medical trial that actually showed the drug was neither safe nor effective in children and adolescents, a major review has confirmed. 

The new analysis of tens of thousands of pages of GlaxoSmithKline's Study 329 starkly contradicts the original report's claims about the drug paroxetine. It is the first study to be reassessed under a pioneering initiative aimed at overturning the findings of potentially misleading studies, often funded by drug firms. 

While the dangers of paroxetine, which can lead to suicidal behaviour and aggression in children and adolescents, are now well established, the reassessment of Study 329 marks a milestone in the medical community's campaign to open up clinical trial data held by pharmaceutical companies to independent scientific scrutiny. 

The original trial report, funded by what was then SmithKline Beecham, in 2001, was not written by any of the 22 named experts but by a medical writer hired by the drug company. It concluded the drug was “generally well tolerated and effective” and led to a marketing campaign that boasted of “remarkable efficacy and safety”. In fact, according to researchers from the University of Adelaide, writing in the BMJ today, an assessment of all the data from the trial supports the opposite conclusion in young people.

he new assessment in the BMJ is the result of the Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials (Riat) initiative - part of a wider movement to force pharmaceutical companies to release all of their data to independent scientific scrutiny. GSK is the only pharmaceutical firm signed up to the All Trials campaign, a group co-founded by the BMJ, which is calling for all trials to be registered and all results made public. 

Despite serious questions over the influence of the drug firm on the eventual findings, Study 329 has never been withdrawn by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) where it was first published.

More here...

Pharma Guy's insight:

You might also be interested in reading this Pharma Marketing Blog post: "Basic Science Plagued by Financial Conflicts of Interest"; 

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GSK's Whooping Cough Vaccination Campaign Needlessly Demonizes Wolves & Grannies!

GSK's Whooping Cough Vaccination Campaign Needlessly Demonizes Wolves & Grannies! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The wolf who gobbled up Little Red Riding Hood's grandma has nothing on GlaxoSmithKline's new big bad wolf. The frightening star of a new marketing effort encouraging whooping cough vaccinations transfigures a grandmother's face while she cradles her newborn grandchild. Even GSK notes the ad may be "a bit unsettling" to some people.

The multimedia campaign targets grandparents specifically to make them aware of the potential danger of pertussis' "big bad cough" for their newborn and infant grandchildren. Adults have historically low vaccination rates. For Tdap, the combined diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine for grown-ups, only 17% of adults over age 19 are up-to-date, according to recent CDC data. GSK said grandparent vaccination rates are even lower, coming in at below 10%. Adults are the most common carriers or "spreaders" of pertussis to infants, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Pharma Guy's insight:


Aw, cmon! Granny turns into a big bad wolf! Is nothing sacred in Big Pharma's attempt to make a profit. Scare tactics are BS!

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Yikes! #pharma Companies Want to Implant Brain-Altering Devices in Your Head! In Addition to Drugs!

Yikes! #pharma Companies Want to Implant Brain-Altering Devices in Your Head! In Addition to Drugs! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |
The field of bioelectronic medicine is gaining the support of GlaxoSmithKline and other Big Pharma companies, but the business model for making a success of this new technology has yet to be determined.

Last spring, GlaxoSmithKline published a five-year research plan for a new class of brain-altering therapeutics that, at first glance, one might assume a major pharma company would not be so enthusiastic about supporting. Why? Because these therapies, called “bioelectronics” are actually tiny implantable devices that could very well supplant drugs to treat everything from inflammatory diseases to cancer.

The idea behind bioelectronics is to place devices in various parts of the body to stimulate nerves, which would in turn send signals to specific organs, essentially reversing disease states. GSK has taken a leading role in fostering bioelectronics R&D, launching a $5 million fund to back academic scientists and startups working on its Bioelectronics Innovation Challenge—a contest in which competing research teams must invent miniature devices that can record and stimulate neural signals. The winner will receive $1 million. And in 2013, GSK launched a $50 million venture fund to further foster bioelectronics.

One of the 30-plus academic scientists who has already received support from GSK, Kevin Tracey, is not shy about predicting such devices could make some drugs obsolete. “Bioelectronic medicine will replace some drugs. The devices will have to be more effective than drugs or safer, but those are both plausible,”says Tracey, CEO at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, NY. “Some drugs today have potentially lethal side effects, cost $30,000 a year and work in half the patients. A device that’s $30,000 to implant once, is [safe] and works in more than half the patients will be very competitive.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

I know the conditions mentioned are VERY serious and devices might help, but where is the line going to be drawn? What about devices for altering your brain if you are depressed? This reminds me of lobotomies and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

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GSK can't deep-clean its image overnight. But it can revamp its websites. LOL!

GSK can't deep-clean its image overnight. But it can revamp its websites. LOL! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) image has taken a beating this past year, what with a string of bribery investigations unfolding across China, Europe and the Middle East. And as part of the company's efforts to put a fresh face forward, its websites are getting a makeover.

The British pharma giant has brought on creative consultancy Radley Yeldar to build a new digital framework that will be rolled out in 45 to 50 markets worldwide, the company announced recently. High on the priority list: Defining Glaxo's visual identity and optimizing its sites for mobile users.

That first goal is part of a broader brand refocusing that the company hopes will make it "easy for employees and external customers to have a clear idea of who we are and our role in global healthcare," GSK Digital Communications Director Simon Quayle told FiercePharmaMarketing.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Doesn't GSK know that patients don't visit drug company websites? Read 

Survey Says Patients Rank Pharma Web Sites "Low" on the Credibility Scale. Duh!
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