05/16/2010 - Pharmaceutical companies long have used office calls, free lunches and drug samples as ways to promote their products to physicians.
These perks are well-known strategies that drug representatives use to get face time to market products to busy doctors. Perhaps less well known is that drug companies also use cash, paying millions to physicians who act as consultants or speak to other doctors about the latest brand-name drugs.
Now, under pressure from Congress and legal settlements, companies for the first time are beginning to disclose payments made nationwide to doctors and medical professionals.
Five pharmaceutical companies distributed more than $2.1 million in payments to 182 Arizona doctors and health professionals last year. Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Cephalon and Pfizer all have disclosed 2009 payments made to doctors who serve as speakers, consultants, advisers or other purposes. Doctors also were reimbursed for travel and meals.
Pharmaceutical watchdog groups welcome the federal requirement that all drug companies fully disclose payments.
"For the first time, we will have real transparency about physician and industry relationships," said Allan Coukell, director of the Pew Prescription Project, which has offices in Boston and Washington, D.C.
Read the full article, Under Pressure from Congress, Drugmakers are Starting to Disclose Payments Made to Doctors, Medical Professionals on the AZCentral.com Web site.