Dollars For Docs!

ProPublica Investigative Report

Dollars for Doctors


How Industry Money Reaches Physicians
Chatting With the Reporters Behind Dollars for Docs

by Marshall Allen
ProPublica, May 30, 2012, 7:56 a.m.

Since 2010, ProPublica reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber have been investigating the influence of pharmaceutical companies on medicine. Their reporting exposed the financial ties between medical societies and drug and device makers, led to the tightening of conflict-of-interest policies at universities and ignited debate over these relationships.

We asked them to share some of their findings with our recently started Patient Harm Facebook community, and we are sharing it here as well.

1. How common is it for doctors to get money from drug companies?

Until recently, drug companies considered this a trade secret and didn’t release it, other than vague disclosures in lectures or medical journals. That changed a couple years ago as companies began settling federal whistleblower lawsuits (http://bit.ly/JQfalZ) alleging that companies unlawfully marketed their products for uses not allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 2011, a dozen drug companies released some information about their payments to doctors. Although they represent about 40 percent of U.S. prescription drug sales, there are dozens or hundreds of companies out there that have yet to disclose this information. These records show that hundreds of thousands of doctors receive money, meals and educational items to speak or consult on behalf of these companies. (Read more)

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