facebook Big Pharma industry is paying doctors' textbook authors

BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More

Big Pharma doesn’t just buy doctors’ lunches, industry writes their textbooks

textbook reading young doctor

Most consumers have never heard of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, a bulky, two-volume textbook that is in its 20th edition.

Chances are, however, most of us have been affected by what’s inside. That’s because Harrison’s is a must-read for medical students and young internists. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) once called it the “most recognized book in all of medicine.”

It’s no surprise, then, that pharmaceutical companies and medical device-makers might be willing to pay big money to the authors who are writing about treatments the companies care about. A new study published in the journal AJOB Empirical Bioethics found a fair share of textbook authors receive compensation from industry. And those payments are not typically disclosed.

Harrison’s authors received more than $11 million between 2009 and 2013 from makers of drugs and medical devices, according to the study and a follow-up report by STAT. The payments were made for authors who also contracted with the companies for related research and/or patents.

A new study published in the journal AJOB Empirical Bioethics found a fair share of textbook authors receive compensation from industry.

One author, a physician, received nearly $870,000 during that period from drug companies.

Nothing illegal. But it’s also worth noting that not a penny of those payments was disclosed.

“We continue to be surprised that the publishers and authors of medical textbooks do not have the same transparency standards about conflict of interest that have become widely accepted for clinical trials and other primary sources,” Brian Piper, a neuroscientist at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine who led the study told STAT.

Are you surprised? Have you been affected by the high cost of a prescription drug or medical device? Speak out. Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.