A stray e-mail that came across the ol' transom today seems to hint that sunshine laws, requiring the public disclosure of names of physicians who receive payments/gifts from the pharmaceutical industry, might actually be changing the landscape. At least a consulting firm called Alliance Life Sciences thinks so:
Alliance, their website explains, currently works with 8 of the 10 largest pharmaceutical firms around sales and marketing. They have produced this new white paper on what's new with physician Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in an era of sunshine. From their e-mail/press release:
“Firms may wish to embrace new marketing paradigms, such as disease-centric product offerings that enhance value propositions for physicians, patients and payers, to compensate for KOL physicians that may no longer be willing or able to collaborate with them,” says Ed Masterson, senior vice president, consulting operations, ALSCG. ... “The new marketing paradigm won’t come from having renowned academics simply present a firm’s PowerPoint deck to auditoriums of doctors,” says Masterson. “It will be based upon research demonstrating improved patient outcomes and avoided costs associated with better compliance that delays or reverses disease progression and acuity.”
What a revolutionary idea--to successfully market new drugs, you might actually have to show that they work. Not simply bribe a famous doctor to show slides over dinner.
The debate over sunshine laws, as we've discussed in numerous previous posts as well as in HOOKED, is how much mileage you get purely out of disclosure. Disclosure of unethical behavior does not turn it into ethical behavior, so if physicians continue to take freebies from industry, and don't care if their names show up on a public website or not, nothing may change. The theory behind the sunshine laws is that if physicians know their names will be made public, they may think twice about their relationships with industry and actual behavior may improve. Alliance Life Sciences seems to be betting that this likely effect is real.