Mea culpa: are multi-billion dollar fines forcing drug companies to clean up their act?BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4865 (Published 18 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4865
- Andrew Jack, pharmaceuticals correspondent, Financial Times
Anyone seeking insights into the aggressive marketing of drugs to doctors over the past two decades should take a look at the court filings released earlier this month, when GlaxoSmithKline agreed a record $3bn (£1.9bn; €2.4bn) fine with US regulators.1
One exhibit2 shows the company’s $29m promotional operating plan for Advair (fluticasone and salmeterol), its bestselling asthma product, in 2003. It includes nearly $2.5m for continuing education and articles in the medical literature “to educate healthcare professionals,” $3.4m for “detail aids, sell sheets and reprints,” and $643 000 for “mouse pads, stress relievers, clipboard, candy jars, calendars, and pens.”
There is $3.5m to train key opinion leaders “to deliver presentations designed to educate healthcare professionals,” $800 000 for “physician mapping” to “determine the networks of influence that exist among prescribers,” and $1.4m in the second semester of that year alone for regional dinner programmes for key opinion leaders.
Elsewhere, documents3 covering a range of drugs led by the …