The practice of receiving gifts and money from pharmaceutical companies is no secret in the medical field. For decades doctors have been treated lavishly by drug companies for promoting their products and equipment. The latest studies indicate that psychiatrists lead the pack in this practice. Of all doctors, psychiatrists received the most in payments from pharmaceutical companies.
This data has just come to light after investigative journalism by PRoPublica.
To date, the database has revealed large sums of money made by seven of the biggest pharmaceutical companies — some of which the U.S. Department of Justice made compulsory to disclose physician payments as part of resolution agreements over illegal drug advertising — which accounted for an astonishing $258 million in payments to nearly 17,700 physicians. PRoPublica plans to add more pharmaceutical companies and doctors to this list soon.
"Receiving payments isn't necessarily wrong," said the homepage for the Dollars for Docs, "but it does raise ethical issues."
PRoPublica has revealed that the money paid out by the pharmaceutical companies has included fees for speaking, consulting, hotel stays, meals, travel, books and even corrective medical education (CME). The 10 top paid doctors last year for each of the seven companies are also listed on the site, and they cover all medical specialties.
More psychiatrists are listed in the database than any other kind of specialist. The majority of psychiatrists received more than $100,000. The predominance of psychiatrists on the PRoPublica database may mirror the percentage of prescription of psychiatric medications. Just last year, the dollar value of antipsychotic drugs came to $14.6 billion, leading all other therapeutic drugs. Antidepressants were not far behind in the fourth spot on the list, valued at $9.9 billion. IMS Health indicated that the total U.S. prescription market last year alone was at $300.3 billion.
For years, high profiled physicians have been working in liaison with pharmaceutical companies, and many times these same physicians approved drugs that were either useless or had no therapeutic benefits.