GSK, Pfizer pay U.S. doctors $262M

Following up Merck's doctor-payment disclosures, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline posted their numbers. And perhaps befitting to the world's largest drugmaker, Pfizer spent the most: $177 million was doled out to doctors in support for clinical trials and speaking fees. GSK's payments were slightly less than half that, at a total of $85 million for trials and speaking.

For Pfizer, the lion's share went to research; $108 million of its total spending supported clinical trials and related work. A chunk of the rest went to doctors for speaking on behalf of the company. Some 4,600 physicians collected a total of $34.4 million, or $7,400 on average. Then there was $18 million in free meals, $8.9 million in advisory fees (paid to 1,400 doctors), $5.8 million for travel, and $1.7 million for education.

GSK's research spending was $28.5 million, paid to various institutions working on 127 different studies with 595 lead researchers. The remaining $56.8 million went to 5,331 doctors and other healthcare professionals, for speaking and advisory work. That's about $10,600 on average. GSK said it lowered the maximum payment for any one doctor to $100,000 from $150,000, and only one doctor received the maximum.

Just for comparison's sake, let's review Merck's numbers. The company spent $20.4 million on payments to 2,088 U.S. doctors, an average of $9,770. Remember, however, that Merck's 2010 total does not include the Schering-Plough side of the business. And, note that Merck and Glaxo have posted their numbers voluntarily, while Pfizer is required to disclose payments under its off-label marketing settlement with the U.S. Justice Department.

- read the Reuters news
- get more from the Wall Street Journal
- see the Telegraph story
- check out the Philadelphia Inquirer's take