Paper: Doc-payment data isn't easily analyzed

Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. Now that drugmakers have taken the unprecedented step of disclosing some payments to doctors and researchers, industry-watchers want that data to be readily sortable and searchable, the New York Times reports.

GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly have posted payment info on their websites. Sometimes it's in the form of a PDF document, which is easily opened on most any computer, but can't be manipulated like a database. In Lilly's case, it's a Flash document that can't be downloaded or manipulated. For those who'd like to see how many doctors in Wisconsin are on Pfizer's payroll, that means painstaking page-by-page searching, rather than one-click sorting and counting.

But if frustration with the format of these disclosures has sparked complaints, the Times points out, it's already inspired new businesses. One company founded by a former Merck lawyer has launched PharmaShine, a site that offers data from five drugmakers, six medical device companies, and state data from Vermont and Minnesota. For those willing to pay, it's searchable, sortable, and ready for analysis a hundred ways. For patients who aren't, there are free doctor-name searches.

Now, some of this could be moot beginning in 2013, when the new Physician Payment Sunshine Act--part of healthcare reform--goes into effect. All drugmakers will have to report the payments, and the reports will have to be made in specific formats that make it easier for people to track them, the Times says. But in the meantime, it looks like a business opportunity.

- read the Times piece

ALSO: Sponsored jaunts, gifts in cash or kind, and consulting assignments offered to doctors for promoting medicines will soon be disclosed by Indian pharma companies, the Times of India reports. Report