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“Dollars For Doctors”: Is Your Doctor Being Paid By A Drug Company?

An historic piece of journalism was published today. Six news organizations partnered on the “Dollars for Docs” project — ProPublica, NPR, PBS’s Nightly Business Report, the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and Consumer Reports. They examined $258 million in payments by seven drug companies in 2009 and 2010 to about 18,000 healthcare practitioners nationwide for speaking, consulting, and other tasks.

This webpage can be your gateway to the project, with links to a database searchable by doctor’s name or by state, and links to the journalism partners’ efforts:

Boston Globe
“Prescription for Prestige”
The Harvard brand, unrivaled in education, is also prized by the pharmaceutical industry as a powerful tool in promoting drugs. Its allure is evident in a new analysis of all publicly reported industry payments to physicians.

Consumer Reports
“Consumers Wary of Doctors Who Take Drug-Company Dollars”
Most Americans are skeptical of financial relationships between doctors and companies, according to a new, national from the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

Chicago Tribune
“Doctors Draw Payments From Drug Companies”
Follow drug company money in Illinois, and it leads to the psychiatry department at Rush University Medical Center, a prominent headache clinic on the North Side of Chicago, a busy suburban urology practice and a psychiatric hospital accused of overmedicating kids.

“Nightly Business Report”
A doctor talks about quitting drug company money when their marketing tactics crossed the line.

“Drug Companies Hire Troubled Docs As Experts”

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Power Of The Press: News Story Prompts Journal Study Changes

In an unusual move, a journal has actually gone in and changed a previously-stated conclusion of a previously-published paper. This follows a Reuters Health story that raised questions about the study. Reuters reports:

“A journal editor has scrubbed a line supporting the use of a L’Oreal-Nestle tanning pill from the conclusion of a company-sponsored study.

The edits come days after a Reuters Health story about serious shortcomings in the report.

Dr. Tanya Bleiker, editor of the British Journal of Dermatology, which published the study, told Reuters Health this week by e-mail she had changed the conclusion of the report, with the permission of the authors, and added the researchers’ financial conflicts.

Half of them were employees of Laboratoires Inneov, a joint venture between L’Oreal and Nestle that makes the tanning pill, called Inneov Sun Sensitivity. However, the original version of the study did not include a conflict of interest statement, Bleiker said last week, because “the authors stated very clearly that there was no conflict of interest.”

On the first page of the report, the researchers concluded that their “results support the use of this nutritional supplement.”

That sentence has now been removed. But the new version of the report now available online still says the tanning pill increases the threshold for sunburns and “represents a complementary strategy to sun avoidance and sunscreen use for a global approach to photoprotection.”

An independent dermatologist who reviewed the results for Reuters Health disputed those claims last week.

Referring to whether the pill would protect women against the sun’s harmful UV rays, Dr. Peter Schalock, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said he had “hard time seeing that statistically or scientifically (the researchers) have proven it.”

Journalists and the general public can learn from this example. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

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