Doctors quietly get millions from device makers

The Archives of Internal Medicine recently published a study on conflict of interest disclosures by surgeons receiving more than $1 million in 2007 from one of any five medical device makers. And by “conflict of interest disclosures,” I, of course, mean “or lack thereof,” a sentiment which would apply in almost half of the cases studied.

The findings mirror similar investigative stories the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published so, as you might have expected, reporter John Fauber was all over the story.

For the analysis, Rothman and his co-authors looked at publicly listed payments made to doctors in 2007 by five orthopedic firms: Biomet, DePuy Orthopedics, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, and Zimmer.

Using the listed payments, the new study found that in 2007 those companies made 1,654 payments totaling $248 million. The 41 orthopedic surgeon researchers got payments ranging from $1 million to $8.9 million.

Those payments then were used to check disclosures in 95 articles authored by 32 of the surgeons. The disclosure rate was 46%.

Such disclosures will be federally mandated starting in 2013, and Fauber writes that journal editors can already use lists published by device-makers to double-check the disclosures that accompany journal submissions.

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