Thursday, November 08, 2012

GSK: "...accept that we operate differently today"

GSK's Deirdre Connolly


Deirdre Connolly, President - North America Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, delivered a speech to the Pharmaceutical Regulatory and Compliance Congress on November 5, the crux of which was a plea for people to start trusting GlaxoSmithKline again.

Again?

Connolly, speaking at the 13th annual Pharmaceutical Regulatory and Compliance Congress and Best Practices Forum, opened the gates to criticism when she told the audience, “We need those we serve, and those who make sure we conduct our business appropriately, to accept that we've changed … Continue to hold us accountable, but accept that we operate differently today.” 

Continue to hold us accountable?

Okay. Thanks for that D. I, for one, shall try my hardest.

Once again, and just like Glaxo CEO, we see the blaming of an era at GSK, implying that the current compliance protocol is robust and that they, GSK, are transparent. To be transparent one would have to give reasons why - Glaxo, on two occasions now, have covered themselves in garlands for opening their doors to show how transparent they are. What they don't tell us is that they were more than likely forced to open their doors as part of agreements and settlements with DA's and Department of Justice.

If, as Connolly suggests, “Trust is a two-way street,” then maybe she could start by retracting the study at the centre of many cases against her company.





Paxil 329 was a study drafted by Sally Laden, an outsider who bigged up the use of Paxil in kids. The study was then passed on to key opinion leaders, to make believe that it was they that had wrote it. As it stands, the study is fraudulent and while it remains in journals as 'science' Glaxo will always be seen as a company that doesn't really care if it is still prescribed to children and adolescents.

I'm left wondering if Connolly's face reddened somewhat as she delivered the following:

"What's not helpful, is the argument that the industry won't get it unless someone goes to jail.

"Fines and settlements do matter.

"Implementing a Corporate Integrity Agreement is no walk on the beach.  Moreover, it damaged our reputation and it hurt our morale."

Gadzooks! Aren't we the naughty public people. We should be more helpful and not demand prison time when a pharmaceutical company such as Glaxo gets caught promoting drugs to children... that are not meant for children.

We, as parents, should rewrite Little Red Riding Hood because it's okay to to trust the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Had GlaxoSmithKline dealt with the off-label promotion of dangerous drugs internally I'd be the first to commend them. They didn't. In fact the recent $3 billion settlement took 10 years to reach, during which time drugs such as Avandia were prescribed, even though Glaxo knew it was causing heart problems to those prescribed it, Paxil was still prescribed to kids, even though Glaxo knew it was making kids kill themselves, Wellbutrin was being touted as a remedy for weight loss during those ten years too, a drug that is in fact an antidepressant with side effects that include suicide ideation and self-harm.

Glaxo, in particular their current mouth pieces, would like us to believe that they have got rid of the bad and that we should trust the new breed in charge. Their CEO, Andrew Witty, was heavily involved with Wellbutrin when he was Glaxo Wellcome'sVP-General Manager of Marketing - something that both he and Connolly have been less than transparent about when they have blamed era's at GSK. More about Witty's involvement here.

Connolly rounded off her speech with the kind of anecdote that's about as believable as a stone that never sinks.

"A GSK rep called on a “no-see” doc. 

"The doctor had seen our news and came out of his office to speak to our rep. 

"He was angry and started letting our rep know exactly what he thought about GSK. The rep listened, and explained that what the doctor was hearing in the news did not reflect the company we are today. He told the doctor about the changes we had made to our sales incentive compensation program. That made a difference. Today, that GSK sales professional is the only one that doctor will see."

Yeh right Deidre, we believe that really happened. The doc was probably offered some cash incentive or trip to Hawaii, or maybe even concert tickets to see Madonna... or if that wasn't his thing maybe tickets to the egg-shaped ball game you call football.

Are we really expected to believe that a doctor so opposed to your company and their abhorrent behaviour would, all of a sudden change his mind and practically have his tongue down your reps throat after listening to how good Glaxo really are?

I can just picture it :

REP - Hi, I'm from GSK

DOC - Not interested, your company stinks and you make us look bad when we prescribe drugs you tell us are safe.

REP - But we have turned over a new leaf, that was all part of an era. We are the good guys now.

DOC - Oh, okay

Rep and doctor embrace, kiss and express their love for one another.

Cue the music, "Love is a many splendid thing"

I'm guessing Connolly's speech was, just like the 329 study, ghostwritten.

Way to go Dee Dee!

Segments of Connolly's speech can be found here.