The Boston Globe, September 8, 2011
Total payments to doctors for promoting pharmaceutical companies' products to their colleagues appear to be falling in Massachusetts, suggesting that new restrictions designed to distance doctors from industry are leading some to abandon the lucrative speaking circuit. Eli Lilly and Co., one of the nation's largest drug makers, paid healthcare providers here $866,919 in 2010 for speaking about their drugs, a 46% drop from 2009, according to an analysis by The Boston Globe and ProPublica, a nonprofit online investigative journalism organization. Payments from GlaxoSmithKline fell at least 29% to $884,850, and probably more because the company's 2009 data did not include the first quarter. The data also show that many Harvard-affiliated doctors have dropped out of company speakers bureaus, a sideline that has allowed many physicians to earn tens of thousands of dollars. In 2009 and the first half of 2010, doctors and researchers affiliated with Harvard Medical School—a brand prized by pharmaceutical companies as a powerful tool in promoting drugs—collected a large portion of the speaking fees paid by drug companies, according to a similar analysis the news organizations conducted a year ago. But new data for 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 reveal that many Harvard doctors have stopped giving promotional talks as new limits have been phased in.