Health Inc.

'Dollars for Docs' Series Shines Light On Drug Company, Physician Ties

Ever wonder what kind of doctors are taking money from drug companies and how it might affect the prescriptions they may be writing for you?

We're launching a new series today called "Dollars for Docs" in partnership with ProPublica and other news organizations. It's all about the hundreds of millions of dollars that go to at least 100,000 physicians to speak to other doctors about prescription drugs.

First up: ProPublica‚Äôs database of what seven drug companies pay 17,700 doctors for speaking about their drugs. ProPublica senior reporter Charles Ornstein talks with Morning Edition Host Renee Montagne about who's getting the money — and it's not just leading experts as you might expect.

"These seven companies, they've paid out more than $257 million in the past 18 months, and remember not all of these companies have even disclosed their payments for that whole period of time, so it's likely going to be substantially more, just for these seven companies," Ornstein says.

Next: A new Consumer Reports survey on doctors taking cash shows that a whopping 74 percent of the public disapproves of doctors taking drug company money in exchange for promoting specific drugs to other doctors.

On our site you can plug in your doctor's name and see if he or she takes money from one of the seven companies that have disclosed these payments. (But beware: there are 70 other companies that haven't released this data yet.)

If your doctor's there, you can find out if the drug they're prescribing for you is from a company they take money from. Might be a good idea to ask them about their relationship with the drug company, if that's the case.

We'll have more stories from this investigation Tuesday and in the coming weeks, so check back in.

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