Last week, ProPublica updated its Dollars for Docs database, so like any self-respecting journalist and inveterate snoop, I took the opportunity to see whether any of my physicians — or any of my relatives who are doctors — have received money from pharmaceutical companies.
You can do the same thing: Find out whether any of the doctors or dentists you’ve seen in Illinois or elsewhere have gotten drug company money for consulting, research or promotional work from August 2013 through December 2018.
Some surveys have found that a majority of patients worry that they might not receive the best treatment or advice from doctors who take pharmaceutical company money. Whether that’s the case or not, the Dollars for Docs data can help us make more informed decisions about our health care. You can read the stories ProPublica has published on the issue here.
Now, to the results of my searches.
I looked up my primary care doc first. I’ve been seeing him for at least two decades, and he’s affiliated with a major medical center in Chicago. He had not received any money from drug firms.
I’ve seen two specialists over the last few years. One of them had received close to $24,000 in 2018, nearly all of it for consulting, with less than $1,500 under the categories of food and beverage, travel or education.
My other specialist received a little under $10,000, most of it for consulting and promotional speaking, with less than $1,500 split between travel and lodging or food and beverage, according to the data.
I looked up my dentist, too. She’d received less than $50 for food and beverage, which I assume doesn’t have much impact on the brand of toothbrush, tiny tube of toothpaste or the floss she gives me after a cleaning.
I also looked up two of my relatives who are specialists in the Chicago area. One had received just over $100 over a handful of payments, all listed for food and beverage. The other got nothing.
So no awkward conversations at the holidays.
I hope you’ll take advantage of this useful database. Let us know what you find out. If you’ve got story ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected] or call me at 708-967-5732.