By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline will stop paying doctors for promoting its drugs and scrap prescription targets for its marketing staff - a first for an industry battling scandals over its sales practices, and a challenge for its peers to follow suit. Britain's biggest drugmaker also said on Tuesday it would stop payments to healthcare professionals for attending medical conferences as it tries to persuade critics it is addressing conflicts of interest that could put commercial interests ahead of the best outcome for patients. The move may force other companies to act, since the entire drugs industry has been under fire for aggressive marketing tactics in recent years. "Where GSK leads we must hope that other companies will follow," Fiona Godlee, editor of the British Medical Journal and an influential campaigner against undue industry influence in medical practice, told Reuters. "But there is a long way to go if we are to truly to extricate medicine from commercial influence. Doctors and their societies have been too ready to compromise themselves." GlaxoSmithKline's move comes amid a major bribery investigation in China, where police have accused it of funneling up to 3 billion yuan ($494 million) to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to boost its drug sales. However, the company said the measures were not directly related to its Chinese problems and were rather part of a broad effort to improve transparency. In the United States, the industry's biggest market by far, many companies have run into conflicts over improper sales tactics and GSK reached a record $3-billion settlement with the U.S. government last year over charges that it provided misleading information on certain drugs. A number of other firms have taken some steps to clean up their marketing practices and companies are being forced to disclose payments to doctors under U.S. healthcare law. Similar laws requiring firms to make public the names of doctors they have paid will take effect in Europe from the start of 2016. "This will undoubtedly change behavior and trigger a re-think of how some forms of continuing medical education are organized and funded," said Richard Bergstrom, director general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. Shares in GSK, hit in recent months by its woes in China and a resulting fall in sales, slid 1.4 percent against a 0.3 percent dip on London's blue-chip FTSE index. Colin McLean, managing director at SVM Asset Management, who holds shares in drugmakers including Pfizer but not GSK, said he would welcome other firms following GSK's lead. "Given the problems Glaxo had in China, it is important for investors to understand, at a deeper level, just how incentives work through an organization," he said. SELF REGULATION AstraZeneca said in 2011 it was scrapping payments for doctors to attend international congresses but others, until now, have not followed suit and GSK's actions go further. An AstraZeneca spokeswoman said on Tuesday it had tightened up practices in 2011 so that its actions could not be seen as an inducement for doctors to prescribe its products. Officials at other major drug companies were not immediately available to comment. Tim Reed, head of Health Action International, an Amsterdam-based non-government organization critical of Big Pharma, said the GSK move would increase the pressure on other companies. "I think other companies will follow suit - but one of the biggest problems is that the industry persists in regulating itself," he said. "The only way to properly control promotion is strong and enforced regulation by the state." GSK's Chief Executive Andrew Witty said in a statement that his company's actions were designed to ensure that patients' interests always came first. "We recognize that we have an important role to play in providing doctors with information about our medicines, but this must be done clearly, transparently and without any perception of conflict of interest," he said. The decision to stop payments to doctors for speaking about medicines during meetings with other prescribers marks a big shift for a global industry that has always relied heavily on the influence of experts in promoting products. GSK said it aimed to implement this move and a related measure to end paying for doctors to attend medical conferences by the start of 2016. The company currently spends some 50 million pounds ($82 million) a year on paying doctors to speak or attend conferences, according to estimates from industry sources. U.S. MODEL The change in payments to GSK's sales representatives will be implemented faster, following a successful test-run in the United States, where payments have been decoupled from the number of prescriptions generated since 2011. The policy of ending individual sales targets will now be rolled out globally. GSK said it planned to implement the new compensation system in all countries by early 2015. Its U.S. ‘Patient First' program bases pay for commercial staff on a mix of qualitative measures and the overall business performance, rather than the number of prescriptions generated. The shift is pragmatic to a certain extent, since many decisions about which drugs to use are now taken centrally by big insurers and governments, based on cost-effectiveness measurements, rather than by individual doctors. Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, said the approach made sense for patient care. "It is pleasing to see a large pharmaceutical company like GlaxoSmithKline recognize that it can reduce the possibility of undue influence by rewarding employees for providing high-quality information and education for doctors rather than for their sales figures," she said. GSK will still pay fees to doctors carrying out company-sponsored clinical research, advisory activities and market research, which it said were essential in providing insights on specific diseases. ($1 = 6.0715 Chinese yuan) ($1 = 0.6136 British pounds) (Additional reporting by Kate Kelland and Simon Jessop; Editing by Sophie Walker)
- Yahoo News
An official in the D.C. National Guard detailed the slow response from the Pentagon to approve the deployment of troops during the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, telling senators Wednesday it was easier to get approval during last summer’s protests against police violence than during the deadly siege.
- The Independent
‘Neanderthal thinking’: Biden criticises Texas and Mississippi governors for dropping coronavirus restrictions
President urges states to follow public health guidances as they lift restrictions amid health crisis
- Associated Press
Israeli authorities said Wednesday that a Libyan-owned tanker suspected of smuggling oil from Iran to Syria was responsible for spilling tons of crude into the eastern Mediterranean last month, causing one of Israel's worst environmental disasters. Over 90% of Israel’s 195 kilometer (120-mile) Mediterranean coastline was covered in more than 1,000 tons of black tar, the result of the mysterious oil spill in international waters. Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said the Panamanian-flagged “pirate ship owned by a Libyan company” — identified as the “Emerald” — filled its stores with oil in the Persian Gulf, then sailed with its transmitters off toward the coast of Syria.
- Business Insider
Dr. Fauci has a stunningly simple way to explain how Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine differs from Pfizer's and Moderna's shots
All three of the COVID-19 shots authorized for use in the US train the body to recognize the coronavirus, but J&J's uses a cold virus instead of mRNA.
Days ahead of Oprah‘s landmark interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, people are already spotting significance in the fashion choices made in the clips released. Meghan Markle‘s Oprah interview outfit reportedly sends a strong message, including a touching tribute to the late Princess Diana. Markle and Prince Harry have spent a year away from the spotlight, adjusting to life after stepping back as “senior members” of the royal family.
This delicious Gooey Butter Cake dessert from Paula Deen uses ingredients I already had in my pantry, like cake mix, and cleaning up was a breeze.
- The Telegraph
Amazon Prime has issued a rare apology after its new web mini-series came under investigation for insulting Hinduism in a landmark case for India, one of the world’s fastest-growing streaming markets. Ten separate cases have been filed against a senior Amazon Prime executive and the makers of Tandav after a scene showed an actor dressed as Hindu deity Lord Shiva in a play using the politically-charged Urdu-language word azaadi, which has been adopted by protesters demonstrating against India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Manoj Kotak, a BJP parliamentarian, accused the directors of “deliberately mocking Hindu gods and disrespect[ing] Hindu sentiments,” after the scene also showed the actor playing Lord Shiva complaining of having fewer social media followers than other deities. A second BJP parliamentarian, Ram Kadam, filed a complaint against the series with one of the other objections coming from a right-wing Hindu group. “After watching the series, it was found that in the 17th minute of the first episode, characters playing Hindu gods and goddesses have been shown in an uncharitable way and using objectionable language, which can incite religious tension,” read a police statement from India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
- The Independent
‘Everything is made in China,’ said a business partner behind the six foot replica
- The Independent
The new subpoena replaces the one sent earlier that expired in January with the new administration
- Associated Press
A former Pakistani prime minister Wednesday defeated a ruling party candidate in Senate elections in a major setback to the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, election authorities and opposition parties said. Yusuf Raza Gilani defeated the ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party's Hafeez Sheikh, an adviser to Khan who was named finance minister in December 2020, Gilani received 169 votes to Sheikh's 164. Gilani's success suggested some ruling party lawmakers revolted and didn't vote for Sheikh for the key seat reserved for the capital Islamabad.
- The Daily Beast
GettyWhen Sen. Josh Hawley voiced his support late last year for giving millions of Americans $2,000 checks, he said he got a call from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ camp. What happened next was the formation of one of Capitol Hill’s stranger political odd couples, as the Trumpist Republican from Missouri and the Democratic Socialist from Vermont joined together to make a very public push for a shared priority.That partnership might have continued last week, with another Hawley announcement that put him in league with Sanders and other progressives: his support for requiring companies with revenues of $1 billion or more to pay their workers a $15 hourly minimum wage.But of course, something rather important happened since Hawley and Sanders first joined forces. The Missouri Republican was a lead endorser and amplifier of former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories that he unfairly lost the 2020 election—theories that fueled the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6. In a now-infamous photograph, Hawley was pictured raising his fist in solidarity with those gathered outside the Capitol that morning. When the Senate convened after the mob was cleared, Hawley was the only senator to speak in favor of objecting to the Electoral College certification.So when Hawley floated his minimum wage plan on Friday, no apparent public or private efforts to collaborate with progressives followed. There was no sequel to the fight for $2,000 checks. Hawley told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that he had not gotten a call from Sanders or any Democratic colleague about the proposal or spoken with any of them about it. Sanders, meanwhile, declined to say if he had even talked to Hawley, only saying in response to questions that Democrats had moved on from an effort to force companies to pay a $15 wage in their COVID bill. A source close to Sanders confirmed that the two men did not speak about the proposed amendment to require companies to pay a $15 minimum wage.Asked if Democrats wanted to work with him right now, Hawley said, “I don’t think they particularly want to work with anybody.”But that doesn’t appear to be so.Sen. Jon Ossoff—the Democrat from Georgia who won his race for Senate the same day Hawley encouraged the mob that attacked it—told The Daily Beast on Tuesday, “I’m not going to rule out working with any colleagues.” He said he’d be open to considering Hawley’s proposal, adding, “I’m encouraged that there is interest among Republican senators in taking action to increase wages.”Ever since Jan. 6, Democrats have contemplated how they could work again as normal with the over 150 congressional Republicans who voted to object to the 2020 election results and who spread conspiracies that President Joe Biden somehow did not win fairly. Relationships on typically chummy Capitol Hill have been strained, with flare-ups and personal attacks boiling over in committee hearings. Some Democratic lawmakers now keep lists of who they can work with and who they cannot, based on the votes that took place after the attack on Jan. 6.But Hawley’s case might be a unique test of the strained new atmosphere on Capitol Hill. To some Democrats, no other high-profile GOP lawmaker is more associated with the events of Jan. 6. Among many, particularly activists, Hawley is now firmly persona non grata—a contemptible figure who has fully earned himself a career as a pariah. “Josh Hawley has a lot to answer to,” said Joe Sanberg, a California businessman and advocate for raising the wage. “I don’t think he’s a relevant part of the conversation about the righteous fight for the minimum wage for 22 million people who earn less than $15 an hour.”But few, if any, occupy the space on the political spectrum that the freshman Republican has staked out—space that has situated Hawley to find, on occasion, common ground with progressives.In addition to the splashier $2,000 check campaign and the minimum wage proposal, Hawley has introduced legislation to require some colleges to pay off the debts of students who default on their loans and bills to rein in pharmaceutical prices. He has been an outspoken critic of Wall Street and corporate America, albeit from a conservative perspective, but in ways that found him occasionally hitting similar notes as some on the left.For many progressives who might be inclined to agree with some of Hawley’s proposals, wariness and skepticism about the ambitious senator’s populist overtures have prevailed. Many have noted that his brand of populism is animated by a nationalist, anti-immigration sentiment they find xenophobic or even racist; others simply don’t take his stances all too seriously.Show-Me State Tells Hawley to Show Himself Out, Poll Finds“I have always been immensely skeptical of it,” said Marshall Steinbaum, an economics professor at the University of Utah who focuses on inequality, labor, and antitrust issues. “It’s not a matter of making common cause with strange political bedfellows… I definitely take the view that having Hawley in some putative coalition discredits that coalition.”But other Democrats have welcomed the emergence of Republicans who could, potentially, help them advance the pro-worker economic policies they’ve been campaigning on for years. Clearly, Sanders previously believed that working with Hawley could help deliver direct relief to people hit hard by the pandemic. "We are working on bipartisan legislation," Sanders said in a speech from the Senate floor in December. "And Senator Hawley has done a very, very good job on this."Hawley, meanwhile, has been a vocal critic of the “radical left.” But when the partnership with Sanders emerged last year, he told reporters, “Hey, as I’ve said, I’ll work with anybody.”The senators’ efforts on stimulus checks prompted commentators to raise their eyebrows—at a “budding left-right populist alliance,” as The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent put it. Ultimately, the bill that passed on Dec. 26 fell far short of what the duo asked for, with direct checks of only $600, and a standalone floor vote on $2,000 checks they pushed for later was blocked by Senate GOP leadership. But that full amount will almost certainly come eventually, with the Democratic-controlled Congress slated to send out $1,400 direct payments as part of a new relief plan this month.The new round of relief was still an abstraction when Capitol Hill was ruptured on Jan. 6, the very day Democrats sealed the Senate majority. In the aftermath, seven Senate Democrats requested that the Senate Ethics Committee open an investigation to obtain a “complete account” of Hawley’s role, and that of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX), in the events of the day. Arguing that they had “lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely,” the senators said the body to determine whether the Republicans violated the rules and therefore merited punishment—including expulsion. Sanders was not on the letter.In response, Hawley accused the Democrats of trying to “cancel” him and filed his own complaint to the Ethics panel about their letter.The Missouri senator proceeded to play virtually no role in the shaping of the COVID relief plan that developed after Biden took office. Most Senate Democrats have avoided declaring they will never work with him again, but no one is rushing to work with him.Hawley has nevertheless tried to get a piece of the ongoing stimulus action, especially on the minimum wage, which has become a key focus of the current relief plan. In addition to proposing a requirement for “billion-dollar” companies to pay a $15 hourly wage, Hawley rolled out what he called the “Blue-Collar Bonus,” a tax credit intended to give employees of smaller companies a way to reach the $15 threshold, at government expense. Critics responded that the structure of his plan would give companies huge loopholes to avoid paying a fair wage.It also explicitly excludes non-citizens and undocumented workers—a nonstarter for Democrats, and a sign to progressives like Sanberg that it’s impossible to take any good in Hawley’s proposals without also taking on the bad. “He has terrible judgment. He’s always trying to move to where he thinks political winds are—when you’re moving with political winds without any moral center, it takes you right into hurricanes,” he said.But Pete d’Alessandro, a former top Sanders political adviser in Iowa, said sometimes there isn’t a choice. “Are you not gonna work with every single senator who thinks we still need to look into the election?” he told The Daily Beast. “Because there’s more than Hawley on that. If you buy into what Congress is supposed to do, if you draw these buckets, there’s not gonna be a lot of people to work with, at some point.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — “Trump needs you,” one fundraising email implored. “President Trump’s Legacy is in your hands," another pleaded. Others advertised “Miss Me Yet?” T-shirts featuring Donald Trump's smiling face.
- The Independent
119 Democrats reject amendment to sweeping voting rights legislation supported by some House leadership and ‘squad’ lawmakers
- FOX News Videos
Dr. Atul Gawande joins Harris Faulkner on ‘America Together With Harris Faulkner: The Shot.’
- Associated Press
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday launched an investigation into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories, turning the tribunal’s focus toward Israeli military actions and settlement construction on lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war. The decision dealt an embarrassing blow to the Israeli government, which had conducted an aggressive public relations and behind-the-scenes diplomatic campaign to block the investigation. It also raised the possibility of arrest warrants being issued against Israeli officials suspected of war crimes, making it potentially risky to travel abroad.
The writer followed cocktail recipes from famous chefs Nancy Fuller, Giada De Laurentiis, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Michael Symon. Here's the best one.
- LA Times
The Jan. 6 Capitol attack has compelled many pastors across the country to speak out on their struggles to combat the spread of misinformation, conspiracy theories and QAnon beliefs among their congregations.
- The Telegraph
Boris Johnson will act unilaterally to give supermarkets and their suppliers more time to adapt to post-Brexit trade arrangements in Northern Ireland in a major escalation of tensions with Brussels. The Prime Minister told the Commons: "The position of Northern Ireland within the UK internal market is rock solid and guaranteed... We leave nothing off the table in order to ensure we get this right." Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, confirmed that the UK is extending the grace period for supermarkets agreed with the EU last year by five months. The move sparked a fresh row with the EU, which is jointly responsible for the Northern Ireland Protocol governing trade and new border checks in the province. The European Commission said the EU had "strong concerns" over the unilateral move because "this amounts to a violation of the relevant substantive provisions of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement." "This is the second time that the UK government is set to breach international law," said Lord Frost's opposite number Maros Sefcovic, referring to earlier UK threats to override the Withdrawal Agreement. The commission threatened retaliation through enforcement measures in the Withdrawal Agreement and trade deal in response. The temporary relaxation for checks on supermarkets and their suppliers had been due to expire at the end of this month under the terms of Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Withdrawal Agreement reached in 2019 and which came into force this year. However, in a written ministerial statement published on Wednesday, Mr Lewis said suppliers moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will now not be required to fill out the extra paperwork for agrifoods when the deadline expires. Instead, the UK will unilaterally extend the deadline until October while continuing to try to secure agreement with the European Commission for a longer extension as requested by Michael Gove.
Hungary's ruling Fidesz party said on Wednesday it was leaving the largest centre-right political group in the European Parliament after the faction moved towards suspending it in a tug-of-war over Prime Minister Viktor Orban's democratic record. Fidesz's departure from the European People's Party (EPP) group is likely to reduce Orban's influence in Brussels following a long conflict over his perceived backsliding on the rule of law and human rights. "I hereby inform you that Fidesz MEPs resign their membership in the EPP Group," Orban wrote in a letter to the faction's head, Manfred Weber, which was published on Twitter by Katalin Novak, a Fidesz deputy chairwoman.
The actor who plays Migs Mayfield on the show said "it's f---ing crazy times" in regards to cancel culture.