Doc-payment info hits J&J unit websites

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) has started posting information on its payments to doctors, joining the Big Pharma movement toward disclosure. But J&J's reports aren't as forthcoming as those from rivals such as Merck and Pfizer. They identify individual doctors and payments made, but they don't total up dollar amounts or say how many physicians received payments.

Disclosure of doctor payments has become trendy over the last year or so, as the pharma industry has come under fire for the intertwining relationships among clinicians, academics and drugmakers. And outspoken critics in Congress have proposed legislation mandating disclosure (the healthcare reform package does just that).

Some drugmakers managed to preempt the lawmakers, announcing their own plans to voluntarily disclose their financial relationships with physicians. Some were forced into posting payment information by Justice Department settlements (Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Cephalon, for three). Over the past several months companies have made good on their pledges, including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, according to Dow Jones.

Now, J&J joins that club, after announcing in May 2009 its intent to do so. The new data includes payments of more than $25 to U.S. doctors for consulting services and participation in speakers bureaus. But again, no totals--and J&J doesn't plan to change that. "There are no aggregates as each link represents an individual legal entity that provided payments to U.S. physicians during the first quarter of 2010," spokesman Mark Wolfe tells Dow Jones

- read the Dow Jones story