Drug groups pay doctors $150m
A dozen pharmaceutical companies have paid doctors in the US nearly $150m so far this year, according to industry data that suggests an increase in these controversial marketing and support practices.
The figures highlight the extent of entertainment, travel, consulting, education and research support to doctors - payments the industry says are ethical and enhance health outcomes, but which critics believe can influence prescribing.
While some large companies, such as Sanofi, have so far not released any data, those that did collectively reported payments of $437m to 262,000 doctors last year. But data mainly from the first quarter of this year shows $148m has been given to 165,000 doctors, including $48m from Eli Lilly and $42m from Pfizer.
This analysis by the Financial Times, prepared in conjunction with PharmaShine, a data provider, comes at a time of intensifying scrutiny of - and prosecutions concerning - pharmaceutical groups’ marketing practices. Government agencies are finalising guidelines that will make the publication of industry support compulsory by 2013 as part of US healthcare reforms.
Publication is designed to allow regulators, medical institutions and patients to better scrutinise doctors’ links with companies, but the extent of disclosures and the way they are presented varies widely - making comparisons difficult.
Allan Coukell, head of the Pew Prescription Project, a drug safety watchdog, said: “We need the medical community to work with the industry on research, but the marketing model is problematic. The first step is transparency and we are not even there yet.”
Eli Lilly is one
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