Pharmaceutical companies regularly sponsor leading specialists with "generous fees to peddle influence" and promote drugs to the profession and the public, writes Moynihan.I'm not against Doctors making money, nor am I opposed to companies hiring consultants to help evaluate their products. I do worry about the impact of such fees on neutral evaluations, however. Fundamentally, experts trade on their expertise, which is manifested by reputation. When reputation is suborned to an agenda (whether for money, see Cunningham, Duke, or out of misguided loyalty, see Powell, Colin) and loses its independence, it becomes a tool of fraud and corruption far to quickly and easily.
Drug companies will pay influential doctors up to $400 an hour to act as key opinion leaders, and some doctors earn more than $25,000 a year in advisory fees. - Science Daily
According to Richard Tiner, medical director at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, although "the work might help to promote a particular medicine" it should be considered payment for work done, and not a bribe. The best antidote to concerns about independence would be more transparency--all company payments to speakers should be routinely disclosed at medical meetings, he adds.This is among the thousands of side symptoms and issues driving health care reform. As we discuss fixing America's health care system in the coming year, we should be sure to follow the money in our evaluations, to see who benefits from opposing a fix, and how.
But David Blumenthal, from Harvard University, believes that payments to key opinion leaders are not in the public interest or in the interests of the patients served by these doctors, and calls for a major cutback in industry influence over the medical profession and its education. - Science Daily