The Sunshine Act Will Publicize Big Pharma's Undue Influence on Doctors; A New Law Will Reveal the Sordid Connections between Big Pharma and Doctors and Teaching Hospitals

By Scutti, Susan | Newsweek, May 30, 2014 | Go to article overview

The Sunshine Act Will Publicize Big Pharma's Undue Influence on Doctors; A New Law Will Reveal the Sordid Connections between Big Pharma and Doctors and Teaching Hospitals


Scutti, Susan, Newsweek


Byline: Susan Scutti

Most people know less about their doctor than they do about their local barista or bartender. The world of medicine--from the pediatrician checking your child's breathing to the specialist researcher toiling away at a university lab--is guardedly private, hidden behind spotless white coats and inscrutable clipboards. But that's about to change.

Starting September 30, Jane and Joe Citizen will be able to search a government-run website and see all the consulting fees, stock options and trips to Key West given by pharmaceutical companies to primary care physicians, ob/gyns, dermatologists and other doctors. Referred to as the "Sunshine Act," this transparency clause in the Affordable Care Act allows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to publicly post all payments and other valuables given by Big Pharma to physicians and teaching hospitals.

Some doctors can't hide their glee. "Conflicts of interest and financial relationships between drug companies are ubiquitous in almost every single aspect of medical practice and medical research and medical education in the U.S.," Eric Campbell of Massachusetts General Hospital tells Newsweek.

Campbell has been on the trail of potentially unethical behavior for some years. In 2004, he and his colleagues surveyed 140 institutions--125 medical schools and the 15 largest independent teaching hospitals in the U.S.--and discovered that 60 percent of department chairs had some form of personal relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. This included serving in a variety of positions: consultant, member of a scientific advisory board, paid speaker, officer or a member of the board of directors. At the institutional level, two-thirds of the departmental units were firmly obligated to the industry by way of research equipment, unrestricted funds, residency or fellowship training support, continuing medical education support and funding from intellectual property licensing.

"It's actually hard to find areas where people don't have a frequent and often very lucrative financial relationship," Campbell says.

How lucrative? One study, published in March 2014 in The Journal of American Medical Association, found that nearly 40 percent of the 50 largest pharmaceutical companies had academic medical center leaders sitting on their boards. The annual compensation for these directors is over a quarter of a million dollars, on average. "These individuals have a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders as members of the board, and that's a very different relationship to a pharmaceutical company than just consulting," says Walid F. Gellad, an assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine and author of the study.

Holding a leadership position at an academic medical center brings considerable influence over research, clinical and educational missions. And when one of these medical center leaders is also charged with providing stewardship for a profit-making business, it represents a substantial conflict of interest.

The issue is not the fact that conflicts exist--it is inevitable that doctors work closely with Big Pharma. The key, says Etta D. Pisano of the Medical University of South Carolina, is how to bring transparency to the process. The public, and individual patients specifically, should be able to know and understand a doctor's contacts and contracts with the industry--particularly those that edge toward the unethical.

Those unseen and improper affiliations may be rampant. Campbell cites the latest troubles of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Britain's biggest drugmaker. In the summer of 2013, Chinese authorities accused GSK of bribing doctors and officials to the tune of $483 million. Earlier this month, GSK faced investigations for alleged bribery in both Poland and Iraq.

GSK isn't the only one. "If you look at the record of drug companies being in settlement with the federal government for doing some really bad things like breaking the law, bribing doctors, it's every major drug company in the last five years," says Campbell. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Sunshine Act Will Publicize Big Pharma's Undue Influence on Doctors; A New Law Will Reveal the Sordid Connections between Big Pharma and Doctors and Teaching Hospitals
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.