Drug firms engage more private docs

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For years, drug firms sought out academic doctors to discuss new products via sponsored talks.

Now, due to tighter ethics policies adopted by many leading universities, that trend may be changing, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The growing number of university conflict-of-interest policies have “forced [industry] to back away from” engaging faculty, noted the Journal Sentinel, and that's dangerous as there is no way to control their participation in the same way that medical schools can restrict biased talks or require speakers to disclose industry ties.

The paper profiled one private Wisconsin physician who received $45,000 from GlaxoSmithKline during a three-month period in 2009, and another who got $61,000 for talks given during the first nine months on behalf of Eli Lilly.  Neither was able to prove that they disclose financial relationships every time.

GSK told the paper that its speaker program has been affected by conflict-of-interest restrictions but that it does not seek private doctors over others.

The article did not analyze the number of physicians listed by GSK and the other companies that have disclosed payments to doctors for parts or all of 2009—Merck, Lilly and Cephalon—and how many are in private practice vs. on faculty.

In recent years, Harvard, Stanford, Duke and other schools have restricted paid speaking.

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