GSK announces changes to its global sales and marketing practices to further ensure patient interests come first

GSK today set out plans to evolve the way it sells and markets its products to healthcare professionals.


  • Company to roll out new sales force compensation programme, removing individual sales targets
  • Begins process to end direct payments to healthcare professionals for speaking engagements or attendance at medical conferences by start of 2016

Issued: Tuesday 17 December 2013, London UK

GSK today set out plans to evolve the way it sells and markets its products to healthcare professionals to further align the company’s activities with the interests of patients.

During 2014, the company will implement a new compensation system which will apply to all GSK sales employees who work directly with prescribing healthcare professionals. The company also intends to begin a consultative process towards stopping direct payments to healthcare professionals for speaking engagements and for attendance at medical conferences. At the same time, the company will increase its focus on developing its multi-channel capability and alternative approaches to enable it to continue to provide appropriate information about its products and to support medical education for healthcare professionals.

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK said: “We believe that it is imperative that we continue to actively challenge our business model at every level to ensure we are responding to the needs of patients and meeting the wider expectations of society. Over the past five years, this has seen us take significant steps to increase access to medicines in developing countries and to be more transparent with our clinical trial data. We’ve also made changes to how we work with healthcare professionals. Building on this, today we are outlining a further set of measures to modernise our relationship with healthcare professionals. These are designed to bring greater clarity and confidence that whenever we talk to a doctor, nurse or other prescriber, it is patients’ interests that always come first. We recognise that we have an important role to play in providing doctors with information about our medicines, but this must be done clearly, transparently and without any perception of conflict of interest.”

Global sales force compensation changes

The new compensation programme will have no individual sales targets. Instead, GSK’s sales professionals who work directly with prescribing healthcare professionals will be evaluated and rewarded for their technical knowledge, the quality of the service they deliver to support improved patient care and the overall performance of GSK’s business. The aim is for this new compensation system to be in place in all of the countries GSK operates in by early 2015.

These changes have been informed by a similar programme successfully introduced by GSK in the USA in 2011. The ‘Patient First’ programme bases compensation for sales professionals who work directly with prescribing healthcare professionals on a blend of qualitative measures and the overall performance of their business, rather than the number of prescriptions generated. Experiences in the last two years suggest that this more patient-focused approach has significantly improved both customer interactions and satisfaction rates with GSK’s US pharmaceutical business.

Payments to healthcare professionals

GSK also announced today the start of a two-year process during which it will make a number of changes to how it works with healthcare professionals.

GSK has an important role to play in supporting education for healthcare professionals and in providing accurate information about its medicines to help them make the best treatment decision for their patients, such as sharing new clinical data, details of label changes or safety updates. Recognising this, the company will direct additional focus and investment to:

  • Strengthen its own dedicated medical and scientific capability to appropriately lead engagement with healthcare professionals
  • Improve GSK’s multi-channel capability, including use of digital technologies, to ensure appropriate product and disease area information can be provided to healthcare professionals conveniently
  • Support fair, balanced and objective medical education for healthcare professionals through provision of independent educational grants.

At the same time, the company will move to end the practice of paying healthcare professionals to speak on its behalf, about its products or disease areas, to audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing.

GSK will also stop providing financial support directly to individual healthcare professionals to attend medical conferences and instead will fund education for healthcare professionals through unsolicited, independent educational grant routes.

The company intends to work through the practical details of these changes with healthcare professionals, medical organisations and patient interest groups to define how they can be implemented effectively and in line with local laws and regulations. This consultation will begin in early 2014, with the aim for the changes to be in place across GSK’s global business by the start of 2016.

GSK will continue to provide appropriate fees for services to healthcare professionals for GSK sponsored clinical research, advisory activities and market research. These activities are essential in providing GSK with insights on specific diseases; identification of symptoms and diagnosis; application of clinical trial data or medication dosage and administration; and how to effectively and appropriately communicate the benefits and risks of its medicines to help meet patient needs.

The company will also continue to invest in community programmes to strengthen healthcare infrastructure, particularly in least developed countries.

The company has committed to disclose the payments it makes to healthcare professionals and already does so in several countries including the USA, Australia, UK, Japan and France in line with locally agreed government or industry association standards. GSK will continue to disclose the payments it makes for clinical research advisory activities and market research in these countries and will also continue to work towards transparency in other countries as industry associations or governments establish specific guidelines for disclosure.

Notes to editors

- The new compensation system will apply to all GSK sales employees who work directly with prescribing healthcare professionals. Implementation of the new system will start in certain countries from January 2014 with the aim for it to be in place in all of the countries GSK operates in by early 2015, subject to local consultation and in accordance with local employment laws.

 - These latest moves build on the steps already taken by GSK to increase access to medicines and operate more openly and transparently. GSK topped the Access to Medicines Index for the third consecutive time in 2012, an independent and robust measure of how pharmaceutical companies perform on improving access to medicines in the world’s poorest countries.

- Earlier this year, GSK launched a new online system to enable researchers to access anonymised patient level data from its clinical trials. The company has also signed up to the AllTrials campaign for clinical trial transparency.

GSK – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.  For further information please visit

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Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements
GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that may affect GSK' s operations are described under Item 3.D 'Risk factors' in the company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2012.