In a big move toward transparency in medicine, ProPublica unveiled a publicly accessible database that shows how much money several large drug companies paid physicians for speaking, consulting or research. My son looked me up and saw that I had received over $3,000 from one of the companies (other companies have paid me considerably more as I have been paid to give lectures to doctors and consult with companies about the treatment of psoriasis and other skin conditions).
I have the sense that some people think there’s a conflict of interest when doctors take money from drug companies, even if it is for lecturing or other activities. I don’t doubt that there is potential for conflict and perception of conflict, but there’s also a lot of good that comes from doctors educating other doctors about new treatments for patients, giving companies advice on patients’ needs and helping drug companies develop new treatments.
Because these activities are good, there’s no need to hide them. I welcome transparency. Just like online doctor ratings are good for the public to see, making these payments more transparent should help alleviate patients’ concerns.