Covering & Exposing Pharmaceutical Industry Relationships

This lecture series highlights advocacy and policy experts who provide technical assistance and leadership development for physicians, residents, and medical students interested in conflict-of-interest reform efforts.
This lecture was recorded on November 6, 2013.
Click to listen or download (1:00:09) – Link to Call Notes

Covering & Exposing Pharmaceutical Industry Relationships

with ProPublica “Dollars for Docs” prize-winning reporters
Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber

Medical journals have described the effects of financial relationships between providers and drug companies and how those relationships may affect prescribing decisions.  As journalists for ProPublica, these distinguished writers have spent the past three years exploring both the relationships between drug makers and health professionals, as well as the drugs doctors prescribe. They obtained data that in the past had been largely off limits, analyzed it extensively, and interviewed prescribers across the country about their findings. What distinguishes their work from others on this topic is the manner in which they used data to explore individual prescribers and then created searchable, sortable databases allowing people to explore their own health professionals to see if they are outliers. Join us to learn more about ProPublica resources and how health care professionals can use these resources in the effort to reduce conflicts of interest in the medical profession.

Featured Speakers:

Charles Ornstein
Senior Reporter, ProPublica

Charles Ornstein is a senior reporter at ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization in New York.  Prior to joining ProPublica in 2008, he was a member of the metro investigative projects team at the Los Angeles Times. In 2004, Ornstein was a lead author along with Tracy Weber on a series on Martin Luther King Jr. /Drew Medical Center, a troubled hospital in South Los Angeles for which he was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service. Charles has been involved in various other health care related investigative writing projects where he has received recognition and other national awards.  He is board president of the Association of Health Care Journalists and an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Tracy Weber, MA
Reporter, ProPublica 

Tracy Weber, along with Charles Ornstein, was also a lead reporter on a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times titled “The Troubles at King/Drew” hospital for which she was awarded several prominent awards. Prior to her work at ProPublica, Tracy reported for the Los Angeles Times from 1994 to 1999. She spent a year reporting from inside California’s juvenile court system prompting reforms in state law. Earlier in her career she reported for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Orange County Register.


Call Recording click to listen or download (1:00:09)
Link to Call Notes

Read articles by Charles and Tracy:

  • Medicare Drug Program Fails to Monitor Prescribers, Putting Seniors and Disabled at Risk
  • Top Medicare Prescribers Rake In Speaking Fees From Drugmakers

Explore ProPublica’s website at: and Dollars for Docs: How Industry Dollars Reach Your Doctors


This event is offered as part of the Partnership to Advance Conflict-free Medical Education(PACME). This partnership and related materials were made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program which is funded by the multi-state settlement of consumer fraud claims regarding the
marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin.

The Partnership to Advance Conflict‐free Medical Education (PACME) is a joint project of the National Physicians Alliance,  the American Medical Student AssociationCommunity Catalyst, and the Pew Charitable Trusts designed to create both external and internal pressure for medical schools and academic medical centers to adopt strong new conflict-of-interest policies.

Learn more at