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No Canadian sunshine on industry money to doctors
Almost half of doctors in the U.S. accept direct payments from industry, according to a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week, part of an entire issue dedicated to the thorny problem of conflict of interest in medical science.
In a single year, U.S. drug and device makers paid $2.4 billion US to individual doctors and specialists. It’s information collected from a searchable database that was established a few years ago under the U.S. Physician Payments Sunshine Act. That law forces U.S. industries to publicly disclose any payment or gift worth more than $10.
What about here in Canada? The risk of conflict of interest is real, but so far there’s no legal sunshine to bring it to light.
“We like to think it’s different in Canada,” said Marc-André Gagnon, a pharmaceutical policy researcher at Carleton University. “But no, there’s some real money at work in the health-care system when it comes to drug companies trying to influence the prescribing habits of doctors.”
“It’s been a recurrent problem for decades,” said Bryn Williams-Jones, bioethics professor at the University of Montreal. “The pharmaceutical industry has used whatever leverage it can to create influence with health professionals who are then prescribing those medications.”
The industry payments can take many forms. Some doctors are paid for every patient they sign up to participate in an industry drug study. Others are paid fees to attend seminars or give speeches at industry-funded conferences. Some receive money…