In another sign that we desperately need to break the pharmaceutical industry’s grip on our broken health care system, the Journal Sentinel reports again on UW doctors receiving big payouts, as much as 6 figures, from drug and medical device companies, presumably to promote their products.
“As part of an effort to enforce more stringent conflict-of-interest rules, UW doctors for the first time have had to specify how much outside income they receive.
The disclosure forms show that orthopedic surgeons, who command some of the highest salaries among university and state employees, also got some of the biggest outside income checks, mostly from companies that make medical devices.
With the outside payments, several of them had total annual income of near or more than $1 million.”
While financial disclosure is a good first step, doctors still are not required to reveal their conflicts of interest to their patients. And drug companies profit handsomely from the validity doctors give to their products by recommending them to their patients.
Arnold Relman, a former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and a doctor since the 1950s, said the financial relationships, which took off in the 1980s, have turned the practice of medicine into a huge business. He said it also is destroying the American health care system.
“We can’t afford it,” he said.
And simply requiring doctors to disclose how much money they are paid doesn’t eliminate their conflicts of interest.
“The time has come for medical schools and universities to recognize that disclosure is not enough,” Relman said.
“It is time to simply make conflicts of interest off limits.
“People have to choose. Do they want to be salaried members of a medical school or freelance entrepreneurs of a medical company?”
You can read more on the Journal Sentinel’s investigation into doctor/drug company relationships here.