A year after Massachusetts clamped down on drug companies treating doctors to dinner, a new analysis shows the state’s physicians and researchers earned $6.3 million from pharmaceutical interests over two years.
The figure emerges as many Massachusetts hospitals and medical institutions have stopped allowing staff to moonlight for pharmaceutical companies. The arrangement typically involves a physician performing consulting work or speaking to other physicians about one of the company’s drugs.
The Boston Globe and online news outlet ProPublica conducted the analysis covering 2009 and 2010.The review showed doctors at Harvard Medical School collected 45 percent of the $6.3 million going to all Massachusetts doctors. One company, Eli Lilly, was responsible for a large amount of the Harvard payments, including 50 percent in 2009 and 33 percent in the first three months of 2010.
Other pharmaceutical companies reviewed were Pfizer, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., Cephalon and the Johnson & Johnson companies.
Doctors drew a wide range of speaking fees, starting at $2,000 to $3,000 for a couple of events. An elite group of two dozen Massachusetts doctors added $40,000 to $100,000 to their incomes.
Awareness of the close relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies has increased in recent years. Last year, Massachusetts implemented its so-called “Doctors’ Gift Ban.” Pharmaceutical companies are no longer allowed to pick up the check for a physician’s meal and the law established more stringent reporting requirements for consulting and speaking engagements.
Now Massachusetts hospitals and medical networks are banning doctors from speaking or consulting for pharmaceutical companies. Among them are Partners HealthCare, which includes Brigham & Women’s, Massachusetts General and McLean hospitals.
The Boston medical malpractice lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck applaud the review by The Boston Globe and ProPublica. The review serves the public interest by revealing the large sums Massachusetts physicians are earning in direct conflict of their primary obligation: caring for patients.