AZ: No more free trips for doctors

AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan (photo) announced at a conference in Istanbul that his company will no longer foot the bill for physician trips to international medical congresses."We have decided that we will no longer pay for doctors to attend international scientific and medical congresses but will instead focus our educational efforts on local educational opportunities for healthcare professionals," noted the exec, according to Reuters. He added that the company thinks its products' sales should be based "on their own merit."

Richard Bergstrom, director general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, notes that AstraZeneca's move has significant implications for the pharma industry as a whole. "It is another sign that industry is changing its scientific education practices and I am sure you will see more moves of a similar nature by other companies," he told the news service. Drugmakers have already eliminated much of the extravagant spending and free gifts that used to be the hallmark of drug marketing to physicians. Further cut-backs may come as companies try to avoid running afoul of anti-bribery and corruption legislation in the U.S. and U.K.

Reuters notes that in the last five years, the pharmaceutical industry has paid $15 billion in fines to the U.S. government alone for marketing violations.

- here's the Reuters article