GSK faces accusations of bribing doctors in PolandBMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2768 (Published 14 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2768
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Editorial note: This rapid response was modified on 1 May 2014 on legal advice.
I am surprised and disappointed that the alleged bribing of Polish doctors by a drug company is emerging only now, but am grateful for it being highlighted.
I was born in Poland, started my medical training there, but qualified in the UK. It is widely known that Polish doctors may be involved in this unethical practice. Drug companies are skilled in convincing doctors to offer their product before others, and Polish consumers are flooded by their advertising in the media.
I can understand how GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) regards Poland as a fantastic marketing opportunity. My main concern is that Polish doctors still get away with coercing, even forcing, their patients to follow their flawed advice. Medical ethics and law are almost non-existent in Poland. Doctors do not even recognise this behaviour as inappropriate. Some just lack education and genuinely believe that a drug recommended by a drug company is better. Doctors are unfamiliar with generic prescribing and do not see the need to change. Even medical schools stick to brand names in pharmacology teaching.
Poland should reconfigure its guidance on prescribing—switch to generic prescribing, change the law, and institute control on the way drugs are prescribed. This would not only save money for the healthcare system but for patients.
Simoens S.; Developing Competitive and Sustainable Polish Generic Medicines Market; Croat Med J. Oct 2009; 50(5): 440–448. doi: 10.3325/cmj.2009.50.440
Competing interests: No competing interests