[Note: Majority of the information below was pasted from an email announcement and one other source online. I just fixed some of the links.]
An historic piece of journalism was published today. Six news organizations partnered on the "Dollars for Docs" project - ProPublica, NPR, PBS's Nightly Business Report, the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and Consumer Reports. They examined $258 million in payments by seven drug companies in 2009 and 2010 to about 17,700 health care practitioners nationwide for speaking, consulting and other tasks. The project offers details on the seven pharma companies, the top earners and a chart of the number of doctors in each state, their professional backgrounds and what they did on behalf of the drug companies.
In a major investigation of pharmaceutical company payments to doctors, ProPublica and our partners found that hundreds of the doctors who are being paid to promote drugs have been accused of professional misconduct, were disciplined by state boards or lacked credentials as specialists. A sidebar piece examines lawsuits brought by former pharma employees who alleged their companies illegally marketed brand-name drugs.
Today, NPR will feature interviews with Charles Ornstein on Morning Edition and Tracy Weber on All Things Considered and next week NPR's Alix Spiegel will have an in-depth piece. The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune published their own related stories, while the Nightly Business Report will run features on their program on Tuesday and Wednesday. And Consumer Reports published a survey of patient attitudes toward pharma payments to doctors.
Ornstein and Weber won a Pulitzer Prize for their King/Drew medical series in the Los Angeles Times in 2005 and they were finalists for the award this year for their coverage of health care issues for ProPublica. Both are available to do interviews to discuss this new investigation. The reporters will also host a conference call this Thursday, October 21st at 3pm Eastern to explain how other reporters can follow up on their work and do their own local investigations (details to follow soon). We hope you will join us by writing, blogging, tweeting or republishing it for your audience. Please feel free to contact us with any questions at all.
Mike Webb & Quadia Muhammad