A big part of what I do for a living is investigate the safety of drugs and medical devices. That means I spend time reading studies about the safety of a specific drug. One of the things I look at is the author of the study. If the author of the study discloses that he made $5 million dollars from Company X last year, then I’m going to assume that his multimillion-dollar gravy-train may have something to do with why he says Company X makes safe products. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t disclose their ties to pharmaceutical companies:
Forty-one doctors accepted a total of $114 million in 2007, in amounts of $1 million to $8 million, David Rothman and his team report in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Yet half of the articles published by the doctors in the following year made no mention of corporate payments.
"If you can’t find information about a $1 million payment to an author in an orthopedic journal on issues that are directly relevant to products for which they’re being paid, then something’s wrong," Rothman says.
Those who know me know that the thing I hate most in the world is hypocrisy. This gets me very angry because of what I perceive to be hypocrisy in the world of product liability lawsuits. Let’s assume that Company X pays a doctor $5 million dollars to run a study that is intended to promote a specific drug. That company will get to come into court and use that study as evidence that the drug is safe. Yet if a lawyer pays a doctor money to run a study, the drug company will argue that the study shouldn’t be considered because it was conducted for litigation purposes.
The implication is that if a study is conducted for litigation purposes, it isn’t a neutral study. Well guess what? Neither are many of the “studies” that big pharma pays for?
At any rate, it’s discouraging to see that some doctors (who probably hate lawyers) have such low personal ethics that they don’t believe they need to disclose million-dollar payments they receive.