Falling Speech Payments
At GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)—which disclosed spending $84.5 million on 2012 research-related payments—spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne told GEN the company hasn’t seen many Sunshine Act changes related to research and physician payments.
She noted, however, that GSK physician speaking and consulting payments have declined “substantially” in recent years: “We have more tightly focused our educational programs to feature information on new medicines and medicine label changes, areas in which we believe physicians need the latest information.”
“There are physicians who have decided against participating in company programs, especially those associated with academic institutions where rules have been adopted to prohibit interaction with pharmaceutical companies,” Rhyne added.
For this year’s first half, GSK disclosed $8.8 million in grants to U.S. nonprofits “that foster increased understanding of scientific, clinical, and healthcare issues” and $6.09 million in physician speaking/consulting payments, but has not posted research payment data.
Besides GSK and Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, Allergan, AstraZeneca, Cephalon (acquired by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries), Eli Lilly, Novartis, Merck & Co., two divisions of Johnson & Johnson, and subsidiaries of Forest Laboratories, Merck KGaA, and UCB are among pharmas agreeing to disclose at least some payments in recent years to settle federal lawsuits.
In 2012, a dozen biopharma giants spent more than $1 billion on payments to providers, led by Merck with $226 million, according to data by consultancy PharmaShine for the Financial Times. ProPublica has tallied more than $2 billion from 15 biopharmas since 2009.
Until the Sunshine Act, some drug giants including Amgen, Bayer, Sanofi, and Roche disclosed no payment data except as required by disclosure laws in Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington, DC, and West Virginia.
Roche’s Genentech subsidiary will let providers review payment data before submission to CMS through its new Sunshine Track when the secure online portal launches November 1. “Around mid-February, we will have to ‘freeze’ the data for reporting purposes, in order to meet the CMS reporting deadline,” Genentech spokeswoman Nadine Pinell told GEN.
Dr. Campbell said industry’s limited disclosure has swayed biopharma behavior in one respect: “What they have essentially done is begin concentrating their payments in certain people, key opinion leaders.”
As long as they can deliver for their companies, he said, payments will likely continue: “When hiring doctors to be promotional speakers doesn’t make them more likely to use the company’s products and services, then they’ll stop doing it.”