ProPublica, a non-profit newsroom, has found that more than 700 doctors have been paid more than $1 million by the pharmaceutical industry for promotional talks and consulting.
Since 2010, the organization has been tracking drug company spending on doctors. In 2013, ProPublica discovered that in just four years, one doctor had made more than $1 million through consulting and giving promotional talks for drug companies. Another 21 doctors had made more than $500,000.
Now, six years later, the organization’s data has found that these high earnings have become the norm – despite scrutiny from academics and prosecutors.
According to ProPublica, over 2,500 doctors have received at least $500,000 from drug companies and medical device manufacturers in the last five years. These figures do not include royalties for inventions or money for research.
More than 700 doctors had received more than $1 million.
In 2018, drug companies paid the following amounts to doctors, excluding royalty payments and research:
- Xarelto: $17.9m
- Farxiga: $12.6m
- Humira: $12.2m
- Jardiance: $12.2m
- Keytruda: $11.7m
- Eliquis: $11.6m
- Repatha: $10.9m
- Aubagio: $10.7m
- Entresto: $10.2m
- Invokana: $9.06m
Studies that looked at payment data and doctors’ prescribing choices found a link between the payments and the products chosen by doctors.
According to ProPublica, some doctors and academics predicted that public exposure of the data would force companies and doctors to rethink these payment arrangements. But new analysis has shown that public exposure has done little to change the new status quo.
In fact, there has been little change to the amount the industry is spending. Between 2014 and 2018, drug and medical device companies spent $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion each year for doctors to speak and consult. These figures include royalties, but they do not include research spending.
The data also shows that roughly the same number of doctors, over 600,000, received payments.