California Watch reported last week that Pfizer has begun disclosing payments to doctors. Having expressed its intent to release the data last February, Pfizer's newly launched database includes payments to individual healthcare professionals, medical practices and medical institutions from July 1 to December 31, 2009. The recipients are alphabetically searchable and the expenses are itemized into categories including professional advising, expert-led forums, research, meals, business-related travel and educational items. The figures from 2009 include aggregate payments of $500 or more to each entity, but Pfizer has started collecting data to disclose all payments made after January 1, 2010. Several other major pharmaceutical companies have also started increasing transparency, in anticipation of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act which will require this type of payment disclosure to be universal by 2012:
- Eli Lilly has created a Faculty Registry with a keyword searchable report on contract work performed for Lilly. Aggregate totals from 2009 (Q1-Q3) are listed with the entity or name that received payment, how many activities were performed for Lilly and the type of service provided (patient education programs, healthcare professional education programs or advising/consulting and international education programs).
- GlaxoSmithKline has pledged to launch full disclosures in 2011 for all payments made in 2010. For now, the company has published a PDF report in the transparency section of its website for the 2009 (Q2-Q4) with the health care professionals' names, itemization by consultant or speaker services and the total amount that was paid.
- Promising to make all payments available in the near future, Merck has released data on payments made to speakers during 2009 (Q3 and Q4) in a PDF report. This PDF includes names, subject areas, the number of events and the amount paid. Check Merck's transparency webpage periodically to find out whether additional information has been released.
Pfizer's reporting is currently the most comprehensive, but expect to see more from the other companies in the future. This emerging public record will be useful to attorneys who are vetting physician expert witnesses for conflicts of interests as well as to consumers. For more on doctors' potential conflicts of interest, read our December 2008 blog entry here.