Andrew Witty – window dressing at Glaxo… but where’s the real transparency?

Andrew Witty’s latest initiative at Glaxo is no more than window dressing as he promises to make public the level of advisory fees it offers to doctors and medical academics (Charlie Nemeroff anyone?).

If Witty really wants transparency, then I ask him to give me an hour of his time and we’ll talk Seroxat/Paxil – I live near Brentford so I can work around your diary, Andrew.

One blunt Yorkshireman to another, eh lad?

Anyway, this from Pharmalot:

Andrew Witty wants to board the transparency train. After a few rival drugmakers – such as Lilly and Merck – vowed to disclose payments to doctors, Glaxo is now saying it will do the same.

And so the ceo promises to make public the level of advisory fees it offers to doctors and medical academics, and will strictly cap the payments they can receive in the US to $150,000 a year, according to The Financial Times. He tells the paper that he will impose a cap “without exception” on payments and promised to publish the amounts. Although, a timetable has not been revealed. [Our thought: $150,000 is a lot of money, Andrew. Why so much?]

The move comes after Glaxo has been caught up in pair of publicized debacles. In the US, Charles Nemeroff received about $1 million in payments from Glaxo, and is being investigated by the US Senate Finance Committee for failing to make sufficient disclosure while accepting federal grants to reseach Glaxo drugs. He recently stepped down as chair of the Emory University psychiatry department (take a look).

And in the Netherlands, the health inspectorate is investigating concerns about payments from Glaxo to academics who sit on the Health Council, an advisory body that recommended the use of Cervarix, the drugmaker’s new HPV vaccine (back story). Glaxo denies any committing any misconduct.

“It’s appropriate that we have a limit on what we pay. In the past, whatever has happened has happened, but in the future there will be strict adherence to these caps, which will be clearer to everybody,” Witty tells the FT. However, the “timing and infrastructure” of publishing details of its payments had yet to be determined. [Another thought: Why not, Andrew?]

Pharma has taken voluntary steps to limit certain activities that critics say influence prescribing, but in the US, the PhRMA trade group issued guidelines that do not cap consulting or speaking fees (see here).

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