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In an unexpected move, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will resume payments to doctors who help promote some of their medicines, reversing a policy begun five years ago after marketing scandals that led, in part, to an infamous settlement with U.S. authorities.

Going forward, the company will pay doctors who speak on its behalf for “select” products in the U.S. and Japan, but this could extend to major markets in Europe, North America, and Asia starting next year. Nonetheless, Glaxo insisted total payments will be “significantly lower” than before the old policy was announced in 2013.


In explaining its decision, Glaxo argued it is the only drug maker that does not pay physicians to promote its medicines and vaccines. As a result, the company suggested it is at a competitive disadvantage because doctors now have a “reduced understanding” of its products, which diminishes “patient access,” according to a statement posted on its website.

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