Journalism in the Public Interest

Dollars for Docs Payments Approach $300 Million

ProPublica has added another $13 million in payments to our Dollars for Docs database of drug-company spending on doctors and other health professionals. That brings the total to nearly $295 million.


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Today we’ve added another $13 million in payments to our Dollars for Docs database of drug-company spending on doctors and other health professionals. That brings the total to nearly $295 million.

ProPublica launched Dollars for Docs in October, creating the most accessible accounting yet of pharmaceutical payments to doctors for speaking, consulting and other duties. It includes disclosures from Eli Lilly & Co., AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Pfizer and Cephalon for various periods of 2009 and 2010.

The new payments were made by Glaxo and Ortho-McNeil, a division of Johnson & Johnson, in the third quarter of this year. Other Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries have yet to update spending totals beyond the first quarter.

Interestingly, Glaxo’s spending on speaking and consulting dropped markedly in the third quarter compared to its average in prior quarters. In the past, the company paid large amounts to doctors to promote its diabetes drug Avandia. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration severely restricted the drug’s use in September amid concerns about its heart attack risks.

Glaxo spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne said in an e-mail that there is no “overarching single reason” for the decline in spending last quarter. “Spending varies from time to time as needs and resources change,” she wrote.

We also have an update about one of Glaxo’s leading speakers. Baylor College of Medicine in Houston launched a review of Dr. Amir Sharafkhaneh this fall after we asked him about his lectures for a story on the industry’s top-paid speakers. Sharafkhaneh has made at least $222,771.

Baylor spokeswoman Lori Williams said the review found that Sharafkhaneh was not in compliance with the school’s conflict-of-interest policy because he did not properly disclose his relationships with the drug companies.

“He has now updated his disclosures and is currently in compliance with the College’s COI policy,” Williams said in an e-mail.

The findings were sent to Baylor President Dr. Paul Klotman for possible disciplinary action, Williams said. Citing privacy policies, she would not discuss the results of the review. Sharafkhaneh remains on Baylor’s faculty, Williams wrote. Sharafkhaneh did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

Our series has triggered a number of reforms and changes:

  • Drug companies have said that they will begin performing more stringent background checks after we reported that they had hired sanctioned doctors.
  • Universities and teaching hospitals are re-examining compliance with their conflict-of-interest policies after our report highlighted doctors in apparent violation of those rules for giving drug company speeches.
  • Several drug companies have submitted revised reports to the Minnesota pharmacy board after we found discrepancies between what they told the state they had paid Minnesota doctors and what the firms reported on their own websites.

In addition to updates from the seven existing companies, at least three new companies will release their payment data next year as part of agreements to settle whistleblower lawsuits against them.

Forest Laboratories must post information on its payments by Jan. 1. Novartis Pharmaceuticals must begin posting its information by March 31. Allergan must do so by April 30.

ProPublica will add those payments to its database shortly after they are made public.


Dec. 22, 2010, 5:15 p.m.

With this much disgusting behavior, I could never trust these guys to create a product that is actually beneficial for people. Big Pharma is sooooo corrupt. Just as bad, if not worse, than Wall Street.

Daniel Snodgrass

Dec. 22, 2010, 7:55 p.m. has some decent PSAs.  Unfortunately, we are inundated with “Talk To Your Doctor” ads about Progenitorivox;  for our RLS, ED, PAD, PMS and Psssssst.

Hard to find someone who is not taking a prescription medication. 

I never met a street drug I didn’t like, oh yes, we have that big concept-massive dollar, ‘War on Drugs’.

Just remember that “A Cured Patient Is A Lost Customer.”  Nuff said.

Daniel Haszard

Dec. 23, 2010, 1:36 a.m.

Eli Lilly Zyprexa saga

They called it the *Five at Five* (5 mg at 5 pm to keep nursing home patients subdued and sleepy) and *VIVA ZYPREXA* (Zyprexa for everybody) campaigns to off label market Eli Lilly Zyprexa as a fix for unapproved usage. 
A New York Times report reviews what has been accomplished by multiple civil
and criminal lawsuits against Big Pharma companies that have relied on fraud
to market industry’s worst pharmaceuticals—antipsychotic drugs—which have
become industry’s most profitable cash cow. 
“The new generation of antipsychotics has also become the single biggest
target of the False Claims Act, a federal law once largely aimed at fraud
among military contractors. Hundreds of millions of
dollars or is currently under investigation for possible health care fraud.” 
Only 9 percent of adult Americans think the pharmaceutical industry can be trusted right around the same rating as big tobacco. No Wonder!

Daniel Haszard Zyprexa victim activist

WOW! $300 Million,  what a shocker!

Hey now, some of that money goes to a good cause… feeding poor interns, residents, and medical, pharmacy, PT, PA, and nursing students.

Alfred C Allen

Dec. 24, 2010, 3:06 p.m.

I heard a report on KPFA out of the corner of my ear about the burden of proof drug companies have to supply to the FDA for approval to market a new drug.  What I remember is that only 30% efficacy for 30% of the afflicted with a specific malady has to be proven for final FDA approval.  Let me know If I have that right.


Dec. 25, 2010, 1:30 p.m.

85% Reduction in Revenue
One Pill per day versus one pill per week.

How many do not need one per day

I was put on blood pressure and cholesterol 25 years ago.. I decided to go one per week. No change. Then, one per month. No change. BlooD pressure this week 124 overr 74 Choles. 135.

Pal mom on 9 one per day And put on 10th. She felt much worse. .He stopped new pill. Then, decided to try remove one per week without jher knowledge.
After 5 she was bragging on how wonderful she felt. Sleep better. More Relaxed. More energy.

Called Family Physician who said “Take her off all the damn pills”

Night and day result. Emrgy. Happier. Energy.

Others have told me of same result.

Close golf pal. On Depression. Daily He was depressed due to no longer being able to drive. Bad eyesight…I started driving him to breakfasta nd then to different places like golf club. etc Happy.
Dr still prescrbied depression daily dose.
No No No He is no longr depressed..
An argument just to get a dumb doctor to change. Off. OK. Happy. No depression.

85% loss of Revneue one day per one per week.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$  WINS EACH TIME $$$$$$$$$


All professor and head of department of medical school do work for drug company, take money and teach young doctors (
bias information)give medication to patient what drug co. telling them to do.
I am glad to list of all doctor taking money from drug co.

‘Do you have GORD?’-‘gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.‘Talk to your doctor’. This ad will appear on TV in Australia (Sydney)sometimes twice within 5 minutes.’ This sort of medical advertising is just a blatant appeal to hypochondriacs and ‘Dr. Penny’ (the ubiquitous female practitioner who constantly bobs up on morning talk shows to talk about whatever the latest superficial ‘medical’ nonsense is going around) assures us that it could be a symptom of something more serious.Maybe she is hinting at angina or stomach ulcers or whatever.Are the doctors so desperate for patients that they have to promote this slop?As ‘Dr.Penny’ doesn’t actually promote any product in these ads it begs the question ‘Who is paying for them? Is it the AMA?She surely isn’t paying for them herself.What can one say about this?-GORD ALMIGHTY?

After reading the description of the federal law (via I am still unsure about a few semantics (which can become corporate loopholes) 1.) Are psychiatrists and other prescribing practitioners also reported?
2.) Why are physicians that are either patients of or under the employ of the companies exempt? If they are being paid to peddle, reporting is mandatory—is that not the purpose of the law? And further, any physician receiving payments is technically an employee, right?!

In response to questions from S. Baker:

1. Psychiatrists are physicians (M.D.s) so they are covered under the reporting requirements of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, but non-physician prescribers (i.e. psychologists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, etc.) are not covered.

2. Companies do not have to report payments made to their own employees (i.e. on salary), even if their employees are physicians.  However, consulting fees and other payments or transfers of value to non-employee physicians do need to be reported.

More info available at:

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Dollars for Doctors

Dollars for Doctors: How Industry Money Reaches Physicians

ProPublica is tracking the financial ties between doctors and medical companies.

The Story So Far

ProPublica is investigating the financial ties between the medical community and the drug and device industry. In October 2010, ProPublica compiled the list of payments that drug companies make to physicians and built a publicly searchable database so that patients could look up their doctors.

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