Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline announced on Monday that it will stop paying doctors to promote its drugs, and that it will stop tying sales representatives' compensation to the number of prescriptions a doctor writes. The practices have long been seen as a conflict of interest in some circles, and some believe that it can lead to ill-suited prescriptions. "The company will no longer pay health care professionals to speak on its behalf," reports The New York Times, "about its products or the diseases they treat 'to audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing.'"
While Glaxo is the first to announce an end to the program, other companies are expected to follow suit, since disclosure of paid endorsements from doctors is now required under the Affordable Care Act. Between 2009 and 2012, Glaxo spent $240 million on support from medical professionals. In 2012, they also paid a $3 billion fine stemming from allegations that they had marketed medications for unapproved uses.
The company denied that the policy change was related to an ongoing bribery investigation in China, and said that it plans to have it phased out entirely by 2016. One doctor also pointed out to the Times that Glaxo will continue providing “unsolicited, independent educational grants” to teach doctors about their drugs.