AstraZeneca ($AZN) has done what few other drugmakers, to our knowledge, have yet managed to do: Disclose its payments to doctors in a database that's easily searchable.
Several Big Pharma companies--and a few not-so-big--have begun publicly listing their financial relationships with physicians, healthcare providers and academic researchers. But the data has been arranged in not-so-user-friendly formats. In fact, ProPublica had to create its own vast doc-payment database to fully analyze the financial ties between drugmakers and physicians.
The new AstraZeneca database expands upon previous disclosures by including not only cash payments for speaking and consulting, but in-kind payments such as free meals and travel, plus research payments, royalties, license fees and investment interests. Payments also include those made through third-party organizations on the company's behalf, or to organizations on a doctor's behalf. The disclosures themselves are required by AstraZeneca's corporate integrity agreement with the feds, which was part of its settlement of claims related to Seroquel marketing.
But unlike other disclosures--such as those made by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), which come in a PDF format--the AZ data is all searchable by city, state, zip code and first or last name. We discovered, for instance, that one doctor in Rutland, VT, made the payment list, with $46 worth of educational materials. And in Boston, the highest-paid AstraZeneca consultant got $12,208 in fees, plus a $7 meal and $1,055 worth of travel. Not to be ungrateful, but we have one more request: We'd like AstraZeneca to make its data sortable, too, like Eli Lilly's.