Federally-required reports show seven pharmaceutical companies have paid almost 720 Missouri doctors more than seven-and-a-half million dollars in the last year and a half.  But the state doctors’ association says there’s a logical side to the story.

The Washington Post describes the figures as showing “the precarious relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical companies.”  Duke and the University of North Carolina are revising conflict of interest policies for research physicians on their faculties. 

Executive Vice President C. C. Swarens of the Missouri Medical Association doubts the figures reflect poorly on the entire profession. He notes most of the doctors listed in the payment reports are doing research and are paid to share the result with other doctors.

He’s not sure doctors should post notices in their offices if they take payments. But he says ethics already limit the doctor-pharmaceutical company relationship…

He says the accepting of drug company money by doctors does not mean the doctors are in company pockets.  He notes some interviews with doctors in which they say they often prescribe other drugs, including generics.

But Swarens says no patient should ever fear asking the doctor about relationships with drug companies.

 C. C. Swarens & BP talk docs. 5:34 mp3