(Adds plan not disclosing payments made to some medical journal authors)
By Ransdell Pierson
NEW YORK, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) said on Monday it will begin next year to disclose most payments made to doctors and other U.S. healthcare professionals, to comply with the spirit of recently proposed legislation and boost trust in its products and collaborations.
Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker by sales, said it aims by early 2010 to begin listing its payments for consulting, speaking engagements and clinical trials on its Web site www.pfizer.com.
“This makes Pfizer the first biopharmaceutical company to commit to reporting payments for conducting Phase I to Phase IV clinical trials, in addition to disclosing payments for speaking and consulting,” Pfizer said in a release.
Such trials run the gamut from earliest-stage human trials to so-called post-marketing studies conducted after medicines are approved.
New York-based Pfizer said it collaborated with almost 8,000 clinical researchers last year in more than 280 studies, making payments to many investigators and their research centers.
“Greater transparency, we feel, will lead to greater trust and bring new medical innovations” forward, said company spokeswoman Kristen Neese.
But the new disclosure plan does not cover payments to some contributors to medical journal articles, such as technical medical writers who do not prescribe medicines and who are sometimes listed as authors of formal study findings.
“In some cases, we will compensate a technical writer to work under the direction of a clinical trial investigator and the technical writers’ contributions are publicly disclosed in the acknowledgments section of the article,” Neese said.
“However, such disclosure does not provide details about these specific payments,” she said.
Industry critics have complained that many important medical journal articles are written by “ghostwriters” who have not actually been involved in clinical trials, but nevertheless make strong conclusions about a drug’s effectiveness and safety that can impress doctors and boost sales of the medicine.
Pfizer said medical journal articles written with the help of its hired technical writers do not constitute “ghostwriting” if assistance from the writer is noted in the acknowledgments section of the article.
Other large drugmakers, including Eli Lilly & Co (LLY.N), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and Merck & Co (MRK.N) have previously announced varying levels of financial disclosure for their payments to doctors, including speaking or consulting fees. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; editing by Richard Chang and Carol Bishopric)