Beginning today, news organizations are publishing a series of stories examining the financial relationships between health care providers and the pharmaceutical industry. Their focus is on payments made to health care providers who serve as “speakers” on behalf of companies and their medicines.
AstraZeneca participated in the stories, and we would like to provide our perspective on the issue by having Marie Martino – AstraZeneca’s US compliance officer – answer the key questions we’ve been asked by reporters in recent days.
Why does AstraZeneca engage with doctors as speakers?
Marie: AstraZeneca works with physicians to provide other health care professionals with accurate and balanced information about the use, safety, benefits and risks of our medicines. Physicians have the expertise and credibility necessary to educate colleagues to ensure they have the information they need to make informed treatment decisions for their patients.
Patients ultimately benefit when physicians are well informed and knowledgeable about our medicines, treatment options and standards of care.
Why does AstraZeneca pay doctors to participate?
Marie: It is appropriate to compensate physicians for the time they dedicate to providing information to other health care providers about our medicines. Physicians who speak about our medicines are compensated at a fair market value based on their qualifications and the amount of time they dedicate to the presentation.
We never pay physicians in exchange for prescribing our medicines or as an incentive to promote our products.
There also is a cap on how much each physician can receive from AstraZeneca each year.
How does AstraZeneca ensure laws and industry policies are followed?
Marie: Before a physician can speak on our behalf, they must participate in extensive training on our medicines, policies, and the laws and regulations that apply to industry-sponsored presentations. Additionally, our policies prevent the company from paying physicians in exchange for prescribing our medicines or as an incentive to promote our products.
How does AstraZeneca select speakers?
Marie: There are several criteria that AstraZeneca evaluates when a physician is nominated to be a speaker on behalf of the company, including positions on academic committees, national scientific organization or national medical societies; faculty positions at a medical teaching institute; consistent publication records; participation in research trials; and regularly speaks at medical events.
Does AstraZeneca disclose how much it pays speakers?
Marie: Yes. That information can be found here.
- By Tony Jewell