The Advocate

The warrior, the champion, the advocate - someone who stands up and says, "Enough." These are the trailblazers and difference-makers. They are not sheep, and they are fearless in the face of change. When you advocate for positive change, you fight for all those who hope for the difference but maybe don't feel the bravery to lead the charge. You give those who are hoping and wanting a path, and with each step along that path you gain traction. That traction becomes a movement. It's a matter of time, and diligence. When these initiatives arise in the arena of Big Pharma, we take notice, as there is much to be transformed within an industry struggling for transparency and truth.

A recent article by Angus Liu for FiercePharma.com highlights such a turning point worthy of notice. "AstraZeneca Pressures Fellow Pharmas With Vow To Reveal Doctor Payments Worldwide: Pharmas’ payments to doctors raise concerns about prescription bias and have triggered bribery investigations, too. So, to win patients' trust, transparency matters. And now, AstraZeneca is going beyond its Big Pharma fellows to disclose all its doc payments, even in regions where it's not required. CEO Pascal Soriot told investors at its annual meeting that his company plans to disclose payments in all countries where it has commercial activities, according to The Times. Several countries, including the U.S., require those disclosures under local regulations. “[There was] no reason for us not to disclose,” said Soriot, as quoted by The Times of London. “It’s only a question of making sure we have the tools to do it in an efficient and indeed transparent manner. I think we should be able to do it soon......Drugmakers argue they sponsor events to communicate with doctors about the latest developments in medicine, and that they also need doctors’ feedback and advice on their therapies. But payments made to doctors, especially those not related to R&D, have been questioned, with critics saying they compromise doctors’ impartiality and have in many cases become conduits for kickbacks. One of the most prominent doctor bribery cases featured AZ compatriot GlaxoSmithKline, which was fined $490 million in 2014 by Chinese authorities after the drugmaker was found guilty of paying out bribes to doctors and hospitals to promote its products. AZ itself paid the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission $5.5 million in 2016 to settle similar charges in China and Russia. A more recent example involves Novartis, which U.S. prosecutors alleged offered doctors fancy meals in exchange for prescriptions."

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