Shedding Light on Doctors’ Conflict of Interest

According to an article in the Washington Post, determining doctors’ ties with pharmaceutical companies, and any related conflict of interest, is often a hard task for patients to accomplish. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley and Herb Kohl, seeks to relieve some of that burden by requiring that all payments of more than $100 made by a drug or medical device company to a doctor be reported.

You may not be able to trust your mortgage broker, your car salesman or your congressman, but you can trust your doctor.

Can’t you?

Patients might well ask themselves this question when they learn that 94 percent of physicians have “a relationship” with the pharmaceutical, medical device or other related industries, according to a national survey of physicians published two years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It is unclear how much those businesses spend on marketing overall, but Integrated Medical Systems, a research firm, estimates that pharmaceutical companies spend more than $20 billion annually marketing directly to doctors.

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