Conflicts of Interest with Pharmaceutical Industry

Take Action: Join the NPA’s Unbranded Doctor Network!

The interaction between physicians and pharmaceutical drug representatives in the U.S. is a common occurrence that goes as far back as the mid 1800s.  In the last few years, however, there has been considerable attention given to the issue of physician/pharmaceutical relationships and conflicts of interest that arise from such relationships.

For instance, in 2012, 84% of U.S. physicians reported receiving payments, gifts, meals, drug samples, or travel from the pharmaceutical industry. In total, the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $27 million on marketing to physicians in 2012 (Pew Prescription Project 2014).

Physicians have increasingly started to question the ethics of such interactions and the impact drug rep visits have on their prescribing habits, and ultimately, on their patients’ health. Additionally, the Sunshine Act, signed into law in 2010, requires financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical device companies be disclosed to the public.

Use the Open Payments search tool to see if your health professional has received drug company money. Open Payments is a federally run transparency program that collects and shares information about financial relationships between doctors, hospitals and health care manufacturing companies—including payments for research activities, gifts, speaking fees, meals, or travel. You can search by name for a doctor, teaching hospital, or company that has made payments.


In addition to payments, physicians find themselves entangled with the pharmaceutical industry in several other ways.

Gifts, Samples and Transparency

Prescription Data Mining


Industry Sponsorship of Continuing Medical Education

Take Action: Join the NPA’s Unbranded Doctor Network!