Eli Lilly to Post Payments Made to Physician Consultants

<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_drugs">Drug maker Eli Lilly has created a so-called “faculty registry” to detail payments made to consulting doctors. The first figures are from the first quarter of 2009.

It is a well-know fact that the financial ties between doctors, medical researchers, academia, and the drug industry run deep and that some highly regarded doctors and researchers have faced a great deal of criticism because of such financial arrangements.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Lilly paid about $22 million to doctors, citing Dow Jones Market Talk, which worked out the numbers. The Journal explained that the list, which was just released, is a move by Lilly to increase transparency of such payments.

Earlier this year we wrote that although it is understood that industry hires scientists and physicians to test drug safety and efficacy for later use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when drug approval is sought, strict procedures—including those surrounding financial information—are in place, but are clearly not always followed.

Now, following headline news and ongoing controversy, drug makers are scrambling to offer increased transparency regarding those ties between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. According to the Journal, Pfizer, Merck, and GlaxoSmithKline are planning to follow Lilly’s example and disclose payments made to doctors. The Journal also wrote that Lilly started disclosing the funding it made to “nonprofits, academic institutions, and for-profit educational companies,” and that, as of September 2008, Lilly would begin reporting payments it made to individual doctors.

Some device makers were forced to begin disclosing payments made to physicians as part of a settlement, noted the Journal, saying that the disclosure revealed that 40 consultants allegedly made over $1 million each. Lilly has a $75,000 annual cap in place for its consultant payments, the Journal added.

We previously wrote about Dr. Joseph Biederman, a doctor whose alleged activities with Big Pharma has been under review for some time. According to the Boston Globe previously, Biederman, a well-known child psychiatrist who has advocated antipsychotics to treat bipolar disorder in children, suspended his financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies pending an investigation.

Also, Fierce Healthcare previously noted that Emory University stripped the chairmanship from prominent psychiatric researcher Charles Nemeroff when an investigation revealed he had not reported significant amounts of industry-sourced income. And, David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor stepped down from the scientific advisory board of Shaklee Corporation after it was found he helped promote a product claiming to possess life-extending properties. Sinclair remains as co-chief adviser to Glaxo’s Sirtris Pharmaceuticals and received over $8 million when Glaxo acquired Sirtris; the company pays him $297,000 annually as a consultant, said the Journal in a report earlier this year.

In other pharmaceutical conflict-of-interest news, we wrote earlier last month that Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance, sent letters to eight major medical journals regarding those journals’ policies and practices concerning medical ghostwriting, according to The Heart. As anyone who reads this blog knows, a variety of drug makers have been the subject of ghostwriting accusations in the past, and industry critics claim it is a common practice. Now, lawmakers are looking at the journals which publish these papers.

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