Journalism in the Public Interest

Dollars for Docs On The Media

In the latest episode of On The Media, Bob Garfield sat down with Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber to talk about how ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs project was a precursor to the implementation of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act.  Dollars for Docs tracked how much a dozen drug companies were paying doctors to promote their drugs.  Next year, as part of the health care reform law, drug and medical device manufacturers will be required to publicly report gifts made to physicians.

The trio talked about how much pharmaceutical companies are spending, how ProPublica’s Dan Nguyen was able to obtain the data and build the database, whether pharma behavior has changed since the law was passed, potential loopholes in the law, and how reporters can use the new database, among other issues.  Listen to the segment here.

And Curtis Brainard of the Columbia Journalism Review offered an overview of the project and notes how it served as a resource for more than 100 other news organizations to produce related stories.

Frank Giramonti

Jan. 24, 2012, 10:59 a.m.

There are physicians who have done some questionably ethical acts working with the pharmaceutical industry, and they have been rightfully sanctioned and hopefully made public. But the piece conducted by Garfield was over the top when referring to all physicians that work with as industry as “pigs going to the trough”.
It seems there continues to be a desire for plain doctor bashing here. There needs to be a distinction between wrongdoers, and those who conduct themselves in an ethical fashion.
If we believe there is no code of conduct for physician-industry relations, than make it illegal, and stop all universities and medical centers from receiving funds from the pharma industry.
Just beware, who will pay for future research in a cash strapped public sector?