I said in my last post to expect that local news media (at least the handful that still have an investigative reporter on staff) would be eagerly mining the ProPublica Dollars for Docs database to see what till their local physicians had their hands in. When I wrote that post I had not yet scrolled my e-mail down to my Kaiser Family Foundation Daily Health Policy Report. On that site I found just such a story by Michael Booth of the Denver Post:
What's most intriguing here to my mind is the reports of how two institutions, the U. Colorado School of Medicine and National Jewish Health, have taken on the task of prohibiting many practices that constitute conflicts of interest and demanding oversight of other relationships between their physicians and pharmaceutical companies. The U. was especially embarrassed by how many of their docs were listed on the first ProPublica database when it came out last year and so vowed to take action.
The upshot is that suppose you read on the database that Dr. House at one of these centers took $100,000 from Eli Lilly. You are not sure just what to make of that. But the institution can now tell you that it looked over the contract and that Dr. House is doing legitimate research with that money, not putting it in his own pocket, and not shilling for Lilly.
This seems to be another example to demonstrate that while mere disclosure of conflicts of interest cannot make everything ethically pristine-- a song I've been singing since this blog started--disclosure can lead to other steps that constitute a true ethical advance.