Patent woes take a toll on speaking

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GSK and nonprofit shrink Big Data down to size
GSK and nonprofit shrink Big Data down to size

For Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, the effects of expiring patents on blockbuster drugs took their toll on payments to US doctors last year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which crunched data the drugmakers' posted on their websites this spring, Pfizer cut overall payments to US physicians by 11% to $173.2 million, including a 40% cut on meals. Clinical research payments stayed flat year-over-year.

Pfizer chalked up its decline, in part, to more efficient  ways of delivering med ed. “For example, we are doing more web-based events which allow speakers to reach a broader audience,” a spokesperson told MM&M by e-mail.

The drug maker cut expert-led forums by 60%, funding 1,539 HCP peer-to-peer programs in 2012, vs. 3,569 in 2011. The average payment per professional fell to $5,380 from $6,110.

GSK, whose 2012-2011 comparison is partly skewed, a spokeswoman told the paper, due to a methodology change that was enacted in the fourth quarter, saw its outlay slip 20% to $97.1 million.

Losses of exclusivity on big drugs have led to layoffs, decimating the ranks of drug reps and curtailing the need to offer free meals to medical practices, the WSJ reported.

However, AstraZeneca paid $30.6 million, a 2% rise, and Johnson & Johnson paid $27 million, a 15% hike, showing that those industry themes have not always resulted in fewer speaker programs.

Other firms reporting 2012 payments included Teva's Cephalon unit (down by 11% to $28.1 million) and Merck, which paid $225 million to HCPs in the US, with about 20% of that going to things like speaking and consulting.

The companies report such data on their websites, either willingly or as a condition of settlements with the feds over marketing practices. Next year, most life science companies will have to report as per the Sunshine Act.
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