Linda A. Johnson, AP
Pfizer, Inc. paid doctors and teaching hospitals a total of $35 million in the last half of 2009 for services ranging from speaking to other doctors about the company's products to running studies of its experimental drugs. The world's biggest drugmaker by revenue disclosed details of its payments to about 4,500 doctors and other health professionals.
Unlike rivals who have made some disclosures, Pfizer included figures on the considerable payments made to doctors running human tests of its drugs. The information, posted on its website, was released a little more than a year after Pfizer promised to do so and comes a week after passage of the national health care overhaul.
That legislation includes provisions requiring detailed disclosures of even small payments and gifts to physicians by makers of drugs and medical devices, but not until 2013. Drug and device makers have been anticipating such a law since the Physician Payment Sunshine Act — later rolled into the health overhaul — was introduced late in 2007.
Pfizer becomes at least the fourth major company to start making some disclosures early. Patients can search the new database to see whether their doctor has received payments for consulting services, giving speeches or participating in drug testing, as well as free meals or travel reimbursement.
Data posted by three other drugmakers so far has not been so user-friendly, said Allan Coukell, director of the Pew Prescription Project, a consumer group focused on safety and access to information about prescription drugs. “We've always emphasized that we do need physicians to work with the industry on clinical trials, but that it needs to be transparent,” Coukell said.
Pfizer's database shows it paid a total of $15 million to more than 250 researchers and teaching hospitals for their time working on clinical trials of experimental medicines. That does not include costs for the drugs, supplies and other items. Roughly 1,500 health professionals were paid an average of $5,000 for their time and expertise as consultants.