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Merck Reveals Payment To Doctors As Part of Transparency

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 11:48 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Conflict of Interest, Merck, Eli Lilly, Physician Payment Sunshine Act, Grassley, Health Care Reform

Merck is now revealing payments to doctors for speaking as part of its new transparency policy.


IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockPhoto/ medical money/ author: Szelmek

Drug maker Merck has made a move toward “transparency” by publishing a list Monday of its payments to doctors.

The company paid a total of more than $3 million, spread among 1,078 people during the third quarter of 2009.

Providers get paid about $1,500 for a typical speech. “Increasing the visibility of our activities … will enhance the public’s trust,” according to Merck CEO Dick Clark in a statement released Monday.

Merck promises that payments on the third and fourth quarters of 2009 will be combined and disclosed in early 2010.

Merck says it is committed to “industry-leading standards of transparency” that have been encouraged by stakeholder feedback and public interest, all part of the company’s corporate responsibility.

The writing has been on the wall for awhile.

Encouraged by a Congressional inquiry, led by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, there has been a movement to seek out payments made to some 0f the country’s leading researchers who promote the drugs made by the companies who pay them.

“After questioning about 20 doctors and research institutions, it looks like problems with transparency are everywhere,” Mr. Grassley said last year. “The current system for tracking financial relationships isn’t working.”

Sen. Grassley has found that even Emory University and Harvard University have had a difficult time knowing exactly how much their academics and medical researchers collect from drug and device makers.

As word of Sen. Grassley’s investigation has spread across the medical industry, institutions and drug makers have agreed to support the concept. Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline have all announced plans to disclose payments to doctors.

Sen. Grassley’s sponsored legislation, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, is part of the health care bill that recently passed the Senate Finance Committee which requires disclosure of payments over $10. #

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