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New York Times reveals payments to doctors by drug firms

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39167.423738.DB (Published 29 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:655
  1. David Spurgeon
  1. Quebec

    Between 1997 and 2005, drug companies paid more than 5500 doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers in the US state of Minnesota at least $57m (£30m; €43m) and another $40m to clinics, research centres, and other organisations, says an investigative report in the New York Times newspaper.

    More than 20% of the state's licensed physicians received a median payment of $1000, and more than 100 received more than $100 000 (www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/us/21drug.html).

    Doctors receive money typically in return for delivering lectures about drugs to other doctors, says the report. Some of the doctors receiving the most money sit on committees that prepare guidelines instructing doctors nationwide about when to use medicines.

    But in dozens of interviews, most doctors said that such payments had no effect on their care of patients. Ken Johnson, senior vice president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said interactions between drug companies and doctors were beneficial. Patients were well served when technically trained pharmaceutical research …

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