Number of the Day: $21.7 million

February 1, 2012 | Number of The Day

Pharmaceutical companies have paid New Jersey doctors and other health professionals more than $21.7 million since 2009 to promote their drugs, according to a nationwide database compiled by ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative news site.

ProPublica notes that accepting money from a drug company is not strictly unethical but should raise questions of conflict of interest. It also distinguishes money for research from that for speaking or consulting, even though all are included on the list. The database is incomplete, however, since pharmaceuticals are not required to report these payments, although they will have to beginning in 2013. Nevertheless, 12 pharmaceutical companies have begun to release this information.

Many New Jersey hospitals and research centers, along with well-known physicians, are included on the list. To learn more about this issue and to see if your physician is accepting consulting fees from big pharma, visit the ProPublica site.