"Dollars for Doctors" – investigative public service journalism

An historic piece of journalism was published today. Six news organizations partnered on the “Dollars for Docs” project – ProPublica, NPR, PBS’s Nightly Business Report, the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and Consumer Reports. They examined $258 million in payments by seven drug companies in 2009 and 2010 to about 18,000 health care practitioners nationwide for speaking, consulting and other tasks.

This page can be your gateway to the project, with links to a database searchable by doctor’s name or by state. And links to the journalism partners’ efforts:

* Boston Globe
Prescription for Prestige
The Harvard brand, unrivaled in education, is also prized by the pharmaceutical industry as a powerful tool in promoting drugs. Its allure is evident in a new analysis of all publicly reported industry payments to physicians.

* Consumer Reports
Consumers Wary of Doctors Who Take Drug-Company Dollars
Most Americans are skeptical of financial relationships between doctors and companies, according to a new, national from the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

* Chicago Tribune
Doctors Draw Payments From Drug Companies
Follow drug company money in Illinois, and it leads to the psychiatry department at Rush University Medical Center, a prominent headache clinic on the North Side of Chicago, a busy suburban urology practice and a psychiatric hospital accused of overmedicating kids.

Nightly Business Report
A doctor talks about quitting drug company money when their marketing tactics crossed the line.

Drug Companies Hire Troubled Docs As Experts

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Comments (2)

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Gregory D. Pawelski

October 19, 2010 at 8:58 am

There was a study, a bold challenge to the assumption of early ovarian cancer treatment, published in The Lancet. It was a long-awaited global study reporting that women who received early chemotherapy for a recurrence of ovarian cancer did not live longer than those whose treatment is delayed (The Lancet, 2010; 376 (9747): 1120 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61515-2).
In an editorial in The Lancet, I can understand why Dr. Bradley Monk, a so-called leader in developing new targeted genetic-based treatments, would try to debunk the study because our focus should no longer be on standard chemotherapy but on targeted genetics-based treatments.
I see from ProPublica’s in-depth analysis that Dr. Monk is on the list of 384 health providers who earned more than $100,000 total from one or more of the seven companies that have disclosed payments in 2009 and early 2010. Besides giving me a taste of the dollars shelled out, it gives me a better understanding of his objection to the study. I think I will view Dr. Monk’s view cautiously.