Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, became the latest pharmaceutical company to publicly disclose its payments to doctors.
As you might expect from Pfizer, the biggest firm in the sector some call Big Pharma, the numbers are substantial. During the second half of 2009, the company paid about 4,500 doctors and other health care professionals $35 million.
The detailed report is a first for Pfizer. You can find the details here. The most intriguing and useful part is an online database of the payments that's pretty easy to use. Disclosures by some other companies have been made only as PDF files.
We did a quick search for our family doctor and came up dry, for better or worse.
Pfizer says it paid about 1,500 health professionals an average of $5,000 for consulting services. About 2,800 were paid to speak on the company's behalf and got around $3,400 each for the work.
Other companies that are also now disclosing the same sorts of payments are Eli Lilly, Britain's GlaxoSmithKline and Merck.
The rest of the industry will have to hop on board soon. Thanks to the new health law, drugmakers and medical device firms will have to disclose payments to doctors exceeding ten bucks starting in 2012.
A Pfizer spokeswoman told the New York Times the company is going beyond the required reporting minimums by disclosing payments to nurse practitioners and physician assistants and immediately making public payments related to clinical studies.