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Dermatologists Receive Massive Pharma Payouts for Name Dropping in AAD Guidelines

Forty out of 49 authors of three American Academy of Dermatology guidelines did not report payments they received from pharmaceutical manufacturers mentioned in the guidelines they wrote, says a recent investigation published in JAMA Dermatology.

According to findings, between 2013 and 2016, out of the 40 authors, 51 percent pocketed more than $10,000, 37 percent were paid more than $50,000, and 24 percent received over $100,000. From this group, 22 withheld information about connections with specific industry corporations even after guideline publication.

Investigators discovered these covert payments through Open Payments, a provision of the Affordable Care Act, that compiles data on healthcare related expenses and publishes the database on its public platform. Investigators used the system to assess the types of payments the authors received, and the nature of the relationship between the dermatologists and the corporations.

By not disclosing these payments, the dermatologists violated Administrative Regulations. Since the advent of Open Payments, investigators have discovered millions of dollars of industry payouts to dermatologists. In 2014, 8,333 dermatologists received payments totaling $34,810,661.57, a figure that corresponds to .54 percent of the total $6.49 billion disbursement. According to researchers of a 2016 study, “those without industry interaction are in the minority.”

There is a great lack of transparency in the physician-industry relationship. Experts have drawn connections between industry payments and industry-sponsored meals with the rising rates of brand-name medication prescriptions. They hope that these findings will call to attention the conflicts of interest within the specialty, and they recommend the American Academy of Dermatology implement stricter enforcement of policy standards.

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