By Jonathan Benson
Medical professionals commonly write articles for popular medical journals that endorse specific drugs or medical devices. But a new study has found that most fail to disclose the fact that they are receiving direct compensation from Big Pharma for such endorsements, which is often to the tune of millions of dollars.
The report, which appears in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, found that roughly 50 percent of surgeons who received more than $1 million from orthopedic medical device manufacturers did not disclose this information in their published journal articles. And the aggregate total of such payments amounted to $248 million in 2007.
“The findings raise troubling questions about undisclosed payments for royalties and other fees from medical device companies that could lead to biased scientific conclusions,” explained David Rothman from the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, author of the study.
Rothman and his team determined that orthopedic surgeons generally receive from $1 to $8.8 million for endorsing specific medical devices in journal articles, but that less than half make any mention of this in those articles. And among those who do disclose a connection, not even one gave any indication as to the amount he or she received.
The analysis, of course, is not the first to highlight blatant conflicts of interest in the drug and medical industry. Last year, Congressional investigations revealed some of the shocking and inappropriate financial relationships that exist between doctors and drug companies.
Pharmaceutical companies routinely pay doctors to write drug endorsements in journals as well. And in addition to cash payments, it is common practice for drug companies to dole out fancy vacations, expensive dinners and other tokens of gratitude to these corrupt doctors for their services.