Pfizer gave $35M to consulting docs during second half of 2009

Pfizer paid more than more than 4,500 healthcare professionals a total $35 million in the last half of 2009 for helping develop and market drugs and educate their peers about the company's products.

The company says the disclosure, which is posted at,  is the first in the industry to report payments made for conducting Phase I-IV clinical trials in addition to disclosing payments for speaking and consulting. It reflects payments made between July and December.

Almost 44 percent of the disclosed payments are associated with Pfizer's collaborations with approximately 250 research organizations to study how medicines work and to discover new medicines, the company says in a statement. In total, Pfizer reported payments of approximately $15.3 million to these institutions for all new clinical trials started after July 1, 2009, as well as clinical trial payments made between July 1 and December 31, 2009 to academic medical centers for ongoing or new research.

"Our work with clinicians makes possible both product development and the steady improvement of medical standards and patient care," says Freda Lewis-Hall, Pfizer's CMO in a statement. "Pfizer is committed to ensuring these relationships are transparent to the public and are carefully managed, so that we foster trust and sustain our ability to deliver the breakthroughs patients have come to expect from us."

Pfizer spokeswoman Kristen Neese tells the New York Times that most of the disclosures were required by an integrity agreement that the company signed in August to settle a federal investigation into the illegal promotion of drugs for off-label uses. Pfizer paid a $2.3 billion fine in that case, the largest criminal fine of any type in the nation's history.

Pfizer is the fourth major drug company to make such disclosures, following Eli Lilly, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline. But it's difficult to search the sites. Pfizer's, for example, is 486 pages long and contains 4,856 names.  But it's not as much as some other drugmakers' totals; Eli Lilly, for instance, detailed $22 million in payments in its first quarterly disclosure last year. GlaxoSmithKline and Merck have also released information on their payments to doctors: Glaxo's $14.5 million over the second quarter of 2009 and Merck's $3.7 million for the third quarter.

Beginning in 2012, the NYT notes, drug and medical device companies will be required to disclose payments of more than $10 to physicians, with the first report available in 2013. The federal Physician Payment Sunshine Act was passed as part of healthcare reform and signed by President Obama last week. Some states also have disclosure laws.

This report doesn't include Wyeth payments. Wyeth data will be included in reports once systems have been integrated. The next report will be posted on March 31, 2011 and will include data from January 1 through December 31, 2010.

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