Once upon a time, I worked as a communications consultant for a major pharmaceutical, helping to educate physicians on the company’s drugs, recent trial results, changes in prescribing information, so forth and so on. I met countless physicians paid by the company as speakers and advisors—many of them nice people and consummate professionals, others primadonnas and pompous jerks.
All of them were paid handsomely—just how much, I was not privy to. But in the spirit of transparency that is sweeping the industry, some drug companies are now making public (and easily accessible) records of the payments they make to physicians. Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca are two.
That gratis tuna salad sandwich and chips for Dr. Mark Aasen of Franklin, Wisconsin, courtesy of the local Lilly sales rep? $14 (Here is Lilly's Physicians Registry.)
How much did Dr. Brendan Montano of Cromwell, Connecticut receive in 2010 for his time on the AstraZeneca speaker circuit? $27,950. (Find AZ's Disclosure Reports here.)
According to the ProPublica journalism project's "Dollars for Docs" page, just eight major drug companies right now reveal a public record of payments to physicians. As the ProPublica tally shows, Lilly leads the pack in dollars doled out.