Clinicians paid by pharmaceutical companies to promote particular brand-name drugs to their peers have been called the “white-coat sales force”. Historically, there has not been a convenient way to find out who is being paid to push a brand. Charles Ornstein, a member of the Center for Health Media and Policy’s National Advisory Council, and colleagues, Tracy Weber and Dan Nguyen, have completed an in-depth investigation resulting in a massive database and article aiming to raise awareness of unscrupulous physicians in the “white-coat sales force”. This comprehensive database, compiled by ProPublica, showed $257.8 million was paid to said clinicians since 2009, but the figure represents only about one third of the market.
Background checks performed on many of the clinicians tracked who were highly paid by pharmaceutical companies revealed charges for professional misconduct. Ornstein and colleagues’ article argues information regarding the financial interests and misconduct of those paid by companies to promote their pharmaceuticals should be freely accessible to the general public. Federal legislation is now pending that would require pharmaceutical companies to report physician payments.
To find out more about this landmark study, read Mr. Ornstein and colleagues’ article entitled: “Docs on Pharma Payroll Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials”.