For the first time, Canadians have been given a glimpse at the millions of dollars doctors receive from pharmaceutical companies each year — though critics say the move stops far short of true transparency.
Ten of Canada’s largest drug companies voluntarily released information about how much money they give physicians, posting the disclosures to their websites Tuesday. The participating companies were:
- AbbVie Corp.
- Amgen Canada Inc.
- Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada
- Eli Lilly Canada Inc.
- Gilead Sciences Canada, Inc.
- GSK Canada (GlaxoSmithKline)
- Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. (Roche Canada)
- Merck Canada Inc.
- Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.
- Purdue Pharma Canada
But the companies did not disclose specific names, nor did they list the reasons for the payments. Some companies disclosed data for three months, others chose six months, and four disclosed payments for one year.
It was a disappointment for those who have been calling for greater transparency in the pharmaceutical industry.
“This information is useless,” said Matthew Herder, director of the Health Law Institute at Dalhousie University. “To me, it seems like it’s a PR strategy, not actually any effort to improve transparency.”
‘Canada is lagging behind’
Innovative Medicines Canada, the trade group that represents more than 50 pharma companies, had endorsed the disclosure initiative. But ultimately only 10 companies decided to follow its recommendation.
And only four released the full amount they paid doctors in 2016.
The voluntary disclosure comes amidst growing international pressure for transparency in pharma-physician financial relationships.
In the U.S., any transfer of value to a doctor exceeding $10 must be disclosed by law. The information is publicly available on a searchable website, with details about travel, meals and other…