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Health

Clinic to Reveal All Doctor-Drug Industry Ties on the Web

Reality BaseBy Melissa LafskyDecember 5, 2008 1:32 AM

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Doctors and drug company money have gone together like peas and carrots for as long as most of us can remember. By now, it's become almost a cliche to note that Big Pharma continues to spend billions every year "influencing" docs, some of whom are pocketing seven-figure checks for notoriously-nebulous "consulting fees." All of which makes it pretty remarkable that major medical centers are now planning to disclose the drug company ties of every one of their doctors. While criticism of the chummy relations between the medical and pharmaceutical communities has been on the rise in recent years, a move like this is unprecedented—and has the potential to set a new standard in the industry. The leader of the disclosure charge is none other than medical behemoth the Cleveland Clinic, which will announce this week that it plan to disclose every physician and researcher tie to the pharmaceutical industry... on its Web site no less. Granted, the number of other hospitals that plan to take such a public and widespread approach to disclosure isn't huge, according to ABC News, but it includes some pretty big names, including the University of Iowa and Duke University's Clinical Research Institute. But is it enough? Critics say that disclosure in and of itself does little to discourage conflicts of interest, and that the self-policing of these policies gives physicians incentives to under-reveal. Cynics even say the ties between the two industries are so deep that reporting them is just shy of pointless. Plus there's the argument that doctors need the drug industry (and vice versa) for its funding of continued medical education and important research. Still, when given the option of mandatory disclosure versus condoned secrecy, we'd say it's an easy choice. Related: RB: Drug Company Pocket-Padding: The Latest Chapter RB: Drugonomics: Cash-Strapped Americans Taking Fewer Prescription Meds

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