Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Merck's Payments To Docs -- For "Speaking Fees" In NY Declined From 2010 to 2012

Once again suggesting that sometimes sunshine alone can be a pretty effective antiseptic. Consider: ". . .As transparency increases and blockbuster drugs lose patent protection, drug companies have dramatically scaled back payments to doctors for promotional talks. This fall, all drug and medical device companies will be required to report payments to doctors. . . ."

In 2010, according to ProPublica -- the earliest year for which fairly complete data was collected -- Merck's top 25 largest payments in New York state were for speaking fees, to specific doctors. By 2012, that had completely flipped, as the top 25 payments in New York were all for research (mostly clinical trial progams). That's encouraging. I'd expect very dramatic reductions in 2014 speaking fees.

Do go read it all at ProPublica's fine database -- or better yet, search your own state, and your own doctors. And ask them about it, if they are taking promotional "speaking" gigs. And keep asking.

One caveat:

Understand though, that being paid by any pharmaceutical company of size, to conduct clinical trials (i.e., the "research" column -- at ProPublica's data set), is both highly honorable, and completely required, to advance life-saving medical science. And so, if your doctor received research grants, from Pfizer, or Merck or Lilly, go easy there. That's the good stuff.

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