Physician-Industry Financial Ties Decreased Since 2004

But 83.8 percent of physicians still have some type of industry financial relationship

FRIDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer physicians received drug samples, food and beverages, reimbursement, or payment for professional services in 2009 than in 2004, but a large majority of physicians still report financial relationships with industry, according to research published in the Nov. 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Eric G. Campbell, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues surveyed a random sample of primary care physicians and specialists to elicit information on physician-industry relationships (PIRs). The researchers compared the prevalence of PIRs reported in 2009 and in 2004. A total of 1,891 physicians completed the survey.

The researchers found that, in 2009, 83.8 percent of respondents reported having some kind of financial relationship with industry in the prior year, compared to 94 percent in 2004. The breakdown included 63.8 percent who received drug samples, versus 78 percent in 2004; 70.6 percent who were treated to food and beverages, versus 83 percent in 2004; 18.3 percent who received reimbursements, versus 35 percent in 2004; and 14.1 percent who were paid for professional services, versus 28 percent in 2004.

"Overall, this study shows that PIRs have been decreasing in the United States at least for the last five years. These data clearly show that physician behavior, at least with respect to managing conflicts of interest, is mutable in a relatively short period. However, given that 83.8 percent of physicians have PIRs, it is clear that industry still has substantial financial links with the nation's physicians," the authors write.

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