In the January 22, 2009 online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine , Dr. Robert Steinbrook discusses how physicians and medical institutions can profitably use the internet to disclose information concerning relationships with the drug and device industry. That the medical community is doing so is welcome news, for several reasons. It will serve as a public relations boost at a time when the limited disclosure of such relationships has embittered patients and the public. But it will also allow the public to delve into the relationships, and the knowledge, as Dr. Steinbrook puts it, can “be used as a starting point for asking questions.” This is a move in the right direction. Has the drug and device industry taken a cue from President Obama’s call for greater transparency (in the federal government, anyway)?
It gets better. Not only are the medical institutions disclosing this information, but the manufacturers themselves have pledged to do so. Dr. Steinbrook notes that “Eli Lilly and Merck have said that they will soon begin disclosing on their web sites some payments to physicians…” I’m liking this news.