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Pfizer Gave Docs $35 Million in Last Half of 2009

Pfizer Gave Docs $35 Million in Last Half of 2009

Associated Press/AP Online

March 31, 2010

TRENTON, N.J. – 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 Wednesday 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 Web site, 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.

“This appeared to be the right next step,” Pfizer chief medical officer Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall told The Associated Press. “I think that many health care providers believe it’s the right thing to do to share this information.”

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.

Critics have questioned whether doctors favor drugs made by companies that pay them consulting or other fees.

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. He said other companies also have not disclosed data on payments for working on patient drug tests.

He hopes more companies make disclosures before they are required.

“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.

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