Troublesome Conflicts Of Interest Exposed May Jeopardize Chronic Kidney Disease Patients' Health


A lesser known fact among Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients is that for decades, pharmaceutical companies have paid doctors to speak on their behalf at conferences and other medical professional meetings with the assumption that other doctors are most likely to value the advice of their trusted peers. In fact, leading drug companies have been known to compensate their sales representatives based on the number of prescriptions doctors write for their patients. Though many CKD patients may find this practice to be baffling and appear to be a troublesome conflict, it is completely legal.

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Nonetheless, many who were aware of the practice have criticized it, and questioned whether doctors may be unduly influenced by the information given to them by their peers which may potentially lead them to prescribe patients drugs inappropriately. To this end, the new American Affordable Care Act will require pharmaceutical companies to publicly divulge any payments made to doctors and sales representatives starting next year.

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Announced Monday December 16th, 2013, 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 by 2016, according to the New York Times. Andrew Witty, Glaxo's Chief Executive Officer, said the changes are being made “to try

and make sure we stay in step with how the world is changing. 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?” The company will also stop providing financial support directly to doctors to attend medical conferences, a practice that is prohibited in the United States through an industry-imposed ethics code but that still occurs in other countries.

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Although the announcement is the first of a Big Pharma company, it may not be the last, as Glaxo (producer of TUMS) is among the largest drug companies in the world ($10.1 billion global third-quarter earnings) and is considered a leader in the field. So, other companies are expected to follow Glaxo's lead and end these controversial practices.  

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Hirschler, Ben. "GSK to Stop Paying Doctors in Major Marketing Overhaul."Http:// Orlando Sentinel/Reuters. 

THOMAS, KATIE. "Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs."Http:// The New York Times Company.