GlaxoSmithKline Changes Marketing Practices; One Step Closer to 100% Evidence-Based Medicine

August 13, 2017


Sterling, VA—The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the nation’s largest independent organization for physicians-in-training, commends GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for changing its marketing practices by no longer paying physicians to promote its products. This is the first major pharmaceutical company to address popular marketing techniques that have the potential to affect physicians’ prescribing behavior by creating conflicts of interest for physicians and in turn, diminishing the quality of treatment for patients.

Announced this week, GSK’s new policy states they will no longer pay physicians to speak on its behalf to medical professionals at conferences and other events. Its compensation model for pharmaceutical sales representatives will also move away from one focused on physicians’ prescribing habits. GSK, however, will continue to educate physicians about their products through “unsolicited, independent” grants, raising questions about whether they were providing truly independent information.

“This is a growing trend and we hope that other pharmaceutical companies will take GSK’s lead and end the practice of paying physicians to endorse their products,” says Dr. Nida Degesys, AMSA’s national president.

Though this policy change is significant, it is part of a growing trend to improve transparency of financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Beginning in September 2014, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act’s Open Payments website will publicly disclose industry payments made to physicians and teaching hospitals. AMSA will be looking at this resource to make sure GSK is keeping its promise.

AMSA’s PharmFree Campaign guides medical students in organizing to advocate for evidence-based rather than marketing-based prescribing practices, the removal of conflicts of interest and global access to essential medicines. The AMSA PharmFree Scorecard offers a comprehensive look at the current and changing landscape of conflict-of-interest policies across American medical education, as well as more in-depth assessment of individual policies that govern industry interaction. In the coming year, the AMSA PharmFree Scorecard will undergo a major revision in its methodology and expand to grading 400 teaching hospitals.

About the American Medical Student Association

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org.