More on the Glaxo decision to stop paying doctors and government officials

This is the concluding paragraph, largely a quote from a “research scholar” (whatever that means) at Columbia University:

“Many people have wondered, what difference will it make?” asked Susan Chimonas, a research scholar at the Center on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University. “Will it clean up practices, or just allow the status quo to continue so long as there is transparency? Glaxo’s move is giving us an early answer — and reason for optimism,” she told ProPublica. “The saying about sunlight being the best disinfectant — that’s exactly what we’re seeing here. The sunshine law is working.”

Uh, maybe. Maybe not. What we know is that the law may – or may not – have caused Glaxo to change one of its policies. Furthermore, and most importantly, we have no idea what Glaxo’s policy change will do “to medicine”. Probably what Susan Chimonas means when she says that the law is working is that patients’ interests will be better served by doctors. We certainly don’t know if this is true. Only time will tell. And it is not at all clear that the nature of what Glaxo has changed – not paying doctors to learn about and speak about its drugs – will help or hurt patient interests. My guess is that it would ultimately hurt patient interests. But this issue is very complicated. It’s too hard to know in advance. Only time will tell, and even then, we’ll still not be able to deconvolve all the myriad factors.

-JD Cross