Is your doctor taking money from drug companies?

A database compiled by the investigative news organization ProPublica could help you find out. The database contains information on $257.8 million in payments from seven major drug companies to more than 17,700 doctors and other health care providers around the country.

Although doctors can legally receive compensation from drug companies, the practice is harshly criticized by many health care ethicists and other experts.  The concern is that the payments can undermine patient care by inducing doctors to favor certain drugs when they write prescriptions, and by adding billions of dollars to health care bills. In addition, critics say drug company payments can encourage medical researchers to downplay the risks, or exaggerate the benefits, of some medicines.

ProPublica and five other media organizations – the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, PBS, NPR and Consumer Reports – also put together a series of stories examining the implications of drug company payments to doctors.

The stories include an account of  lawsuits and criminal prosecutions resulting from drug companies using payments to doctors to illegally promote unapproved, or “off-label”, uses of their medications.

Another story focused on hundreds of doctors on drug company payrolls with blemished records. These includes doctors who had been accused of professional misconduct, were disciplined by state boards or lacked credentials as researchers or specialists.

Related Post:

Patients Want a Bigger Dose of Ethics for Doctors, Poll Finds