by John M Grohol, PsyD – Who were the top 50 psychiatrists in the U.S. paid by the top seven pharmaceutical companies? This past week, ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, recently decided to answer that question by compiling a list of 384 physicians and health care providers who earned more than $100,000 total from one or more of the seven companies that have disclosed payments in 2009 and early 2010. We combed that list and found the top 50 psychiatry earners for the past two years (2009-2010).
First the good news: The Physician Payment Sunshine Act is now law, signed by President Obama as part of the health care bill overhaul. Starting in 2012, drug and medical device companies must report all consulting, speaking and other payments to doctors and teaching hospitals in excess of $100 annually to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which will post the payments on a public website. This is an important first step toward making transparent the pervasive financial ties between doctors who are studying or promoting specific drugs and medical devices and the companies that manufacture these products.
Senator Chuck Grassley has asked leading medical schools to describe their policies on ghostwriting as part of his continuing effort to shed light on financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and medical professionals. “I’m interested in transparency, and academic institutions play an important role in establishing adequate and meaningful disclosure,” he said. Grassley also has conducted oversight and sought disclosure with physicians, continuing medical education and the patient advocacy community.