Pfizer plans to become the first drugmaker to disclose the payments it makes to doctors and healthcare professionals who research or promote their drugs.
Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker says the payment disclosures will begin in early 2010 and will be posted on the www.pfizer.com Web site.
Disclosures will include payments for speaking engagements and consulting fees, according to Reuters.
Pfizer says the full disclosure is designed to boost trust in its drugs and the doctors promoting them.
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) has launched a probe into academic researchers and has found in many cases they underreport to their schools the private profits they are making from the pharmaceutical industry.
In the very public case of Dr. Joseph Biederman of Harvard and Dr. Charles Nemeroff of Emory University, neither psychiatrist was alleged to have fully disclosed to their university the amount of money they were collecting from the pharmaceutical industry, often while promoting the use of the drugs the companies manufactured.
"This makes Pfizer the first biopharmaceutical company to commit to reporting payments for conducting Phase I to Phase IV clinical trials, in addition to disclosing payments for speaking and consulting," Pfizer said in a release.
Last year, Pfizer says to Reuters, it made payments to many investigators researching their drugs in more than 280 studies.
There is a loophole.
Technical writers who collaborate with an investigator to write an article will not be included in the disclosure but should be mentioned as a collaborator in the acknowledgments within in the article.
Critics have charged that ghostwriters, hired by the pharmaceutical industry, craft a story then the drug company attaches a well-known academic name as author, all for compensation. The end result is to impress doctors and boost sales.
IB’s San Antonio Blog reports that starting January 1st, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to a voluntary moratorium which restricts drug company giveaways- such as Viagra pens and Lipitor coffee mugs. These “branded goodies” were meant to foster good will, but some say they may “subliminally” encourage doctors to prescribe more of the drugs. However, skeptics believe that the ban is a superficial measure that does nothing to curb the amount that drug companies spend each year trying to influence physicians.
Sen. Grassley is aggressively advocating transparency in the medical establishment and is promoting the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which will require drug companies and medical device makers to disclose any payments of value above $500 to physicians. #