Houston doctors have financial relationship with drug companies

Doctors in the Houston area are being paid by drug companies for their clinical research as well as activities like consulting and travel, a fresh analysis of data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services showed.

According to the analysis, 16 of Houston area doctors received more than $10,000 in combined compensation last year. The data, which is a part of a federal transparency measure introduced in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, proved that there is a financial relationship between drug companies and doctors.

Advocates of transparency see the release of the data as a vital development. David Rothman, a professor of social medicine at Columbia University Medical School, said the Affordable Care Act has made it easier for stakeholders to scrutinize the relationship between an individual and industry.

Critics like Rothman believe drug companies give doctors money or gifts with a sole aim to influence them. Doctors who accept payments from companies feel they were obliged to return something to the company.

Commenting on the findings of the analysis, Rothman said, "Drug companies are not dumb. They don't give this stuff out for the hell of it."

Meanwhile, the University of Texas has applied the National Institutes of Health standard that states any staff member who receives more than $5,000 in payments from a company in twelve months would be considered to have a significant financial interest in the company.

Rothman hopes that the release of data would discourage many doctors from accepting money from drug companies in the future.