Cleveland Clinic puts pharma payments online

The prestigious Cleveland Clinic says it's started airing business relationships that its 1,800 staff doctors and scientists have with drug and device makers. A database of payments of $5,000 and above will be maintained on the clinic's website as part of an overall revamp of its conflicts of interest policies, which has been underway for the past couple of years. With this new move, the Cleveland Clinic steps to the forefront of medical facilities' efforts to bring transparency to their relationships with industry.

The clinic didn't embark on the conflicts-of-interest overhaul completely voluntarily, the New York Times notes. Several years ago, several of its prominent doctors were criticized for their financial ties to the industry. Since then, the clinic has created ways to monitor those ties and established a committee to review any relationships that are considered "significant."

With this new step toward public disclosure, the clinic is right in tune with the times. As you know, disclosure has been a hot topic all year, with Congress investigating ties between doctors and researchers on one side and pharma on the other. At the same time, lawmakers have drafted legislation that would mandate disclosure of pharma and device companies' payments to doctors. And some drugmakers, such as Merck and Eli Lilly, have pledged to start disclosing those payments next year, with or without legislation.

- check out the clinic's release
- read the New York Times story