Greater Transparency on the Way
The new database, which allows searches by name of clinician and state, only includes payments made by 15 of the biggest pharmaceutical companies — which is up from 7 in 2010. Still, the total amount paid out to clinicians and researchers by these companies was more than $2 billion.
Although approximately half of the payments went towards research, one third of the remaining amount went towards speaker fees. Consulting, meals and travel, and educational materials accounted for the rest.
In addition, 15 of the 22 listed doctors spoke or consulted for Merck, 15 did this for Pfizer, and 14 did this for AstraZeneca.
Starting later this year, all makers of drugs and medical devices will be required to disclose payments to doctors as part of the Affordable Care Act. These disclosures are expected to be released beginning in September 2014.
When asked if the increasing level of transparency will affect acceptance of pharma payments, Dr. Scully said that a "wait and see" attitude is needed.
"It's an experiment in nature, if you will. We support and have been involved with the Sunshine Act and think it should help patients understand what's going on. But it'll be interesting to see what they think about this and whether they care as much as other people do."
Need for Clarity
Dr. Scully also noted that clinicians should be careful and transparent when giving sponsored speeches.
These talks usually contain slide presentations provided by pharmaceutical companies. In a recent story by ProPublica, Dr. Maletic, who is number 17 on the top receivers list, noted that this is required "to ensure compliance with federal rules."
Nevertheless, Dr. Scully said that this information should be disclosed to audience members.
"This is not education as I understand it. If I'm being marketed to, I want to know that so I can judge what they're saying accordingly. That's an infomercial, and it's not the same to me as an educational program," he said.
"You can always learn something from someone who is marketing a drug to you. But if you have a third party that you're receiving something of value from, that complicates your relationship with the second party — especially if that second party is a patient. That sets up a whole ethical issue of being clear about who you are working for," added Dr. Scully.
"There's nothing wrong with working for a drug company. But that needs to be kept clear."
The newly updated Dollars for Docs interactive database was released online March 11, 2013.
Medscape Medical News © 2013 WebMD, LLC
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Cite this: Deborah Brauser. Psychiatrists Top List of Big Pharma Payments Again - Medscape - Mar 14, 2013.