Pharma disclosure or medical profession disclosure?

From the Wall Street Journal (Pfizer to Disclose Payments to Doctors)

Pfizer Inc. said Monday that it will become the latest drug maker to publicly disclose the payments it makes to doctors, as the industry has come under fresh fire for its undue influence and could face toughened legislation.

I’m glad Pfizer and others are beginning to make these disclosures. However this article and many others like it unfairly point their fingers solely at pharmaceutical and medical device companies rather than looking at the situation more broadly.

Keep in mind:

  • Physicians are not required to accept these payments. In fact they aren’t required to have any contact with the pharmaceutical industry at all. They don’t have to allow detailers into their offices, accept lunches, pens, or anything else. And there are plenty of physicians who don’t.
  • Medical journals, medical societies, patient organizations, universities and so on can choose not to accept industry sponsorships, advertising, reprint orders, and so on. But many do accept –or actively solicit– such funding.

Pharma and medical device companies have been successful in influencing the medical profession. If anything they’ve been too successful. What do I mean by that? Well, critics are starting to challenge the objectivity of physicians, universities, medical journals and medical societies. When their image is undermined they become less valuable and payments will drop.

February 10, 2009

One thought on “Pharma disclosure or medical profession disclosure?”

  1. You make a good point. Much of the blame is put on pharmaceutical companies and their salesmen, who after all, are just doing their job, looking for ways to push their products. We all hope the medications we’re prescribed by our doctors are being prescribed because they will be the ones that work most effectively to cure or better our ailments, not because they went to an expensive dinner the night before with the drug company rep. A turnaround is taking place though. Those in the workforce are being hit with higher co-pays on their prescription drugs through their employers’ healthcare plans and so they are increasingly turning to generic drugs, rather than high-cost brands that doctors prescribe and generics have been responsible for much of the job loss in the pharmaceutical sales field.

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