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July 25, 2012 / Admin

“Dollars for Docs” Database Sheds Light on Pharmaceutical Promotions


Have you ever wondered if your doctor has ulterior motives in prescribing you a certain medication? Now you have a way of finding out if your doctor is being paid to promote certain drugs.


Last month ProPublica launched its Dollars for Docs database, which compiles data about payments pharmaceutical companies have made to doctors for promoting their drugs. According to ProPublica, pharmaceutical companies routinely pay doctors to give presentations designed to teach other doctors about the benefits and risks of their drugs. In 2009, seven drug companies began disclosing information about these payments. ProPublica compiled this data, which totals $258 million in payments, into a searchable database.



The website has also launched a series of articles analyzing the information in the database. They have already posted stories on paid presenters that have blemished records and limited credentials, and a breakdown of which doctors have received the most money from the pharmaceutical companies in the last couple of years. Although the database only covers payments made by a fraction of the total number of pharmaceutical companies, it still sheds some light on the process by which doctors learn about drugs and decide which ones to prescribe. It is also a way for patients to find out if their doctor may have a conflict of interest when it comes to writing certain prescriptions. As the ProPublica site points out, there is not necessarily anything wrong with doctors being paid to promote certain drugs, but it does raise ethical questions. The website has also posted a guide for patients on how to use the database, and what it means if their doctor has received money.



The database already has some calling for increased transparency in the world of pharmaceutical drug promotion.



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