The Cleveland Clinic has begun to disclose industry relationships of its
physicians and researchers on its Web-based directory, the organization
announced on December 3, 2008.
If a physician has a financial relationship, such as royalty, or a
consulting service that pays $5,000 or more a year with a drug or device
company, his or her Web listing will contain the name of the company and the
nature of these relationships. The public can search for specific physicians
online by their last names. If there are no relationships with industry, the
listing will say so.
Physicians and researchers employed by the organization are required to
report all industry relationships at least once a year to the Innovation
Management and Conflict of Interest Committee for review and approval.
"As far as we are aware, Cleveland Clinic will be the first academic
medical center in the U.S. to disclose to its patients and the public the
industry ties of its physicians," said Joseph Hahn, M.D., chief of
staff, in the organization's press release.
The relationships among industry, medicine, and research have come under
increasing scrutiny in recent years, and ties that create potential conflicts
of interests are criticized by consumer advocates, media, and regulators. In
2008, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) opened investigations into several
prominent psychiatric researchers for allegedly failing to disclose income
from drug companies.
Several years ago, Cleveland Clinic was associated with controversies as
media revealed financial ties between some of its researchers and
medical-device companies that raised conflict-of-interest questions.
With increasing calls for transparency, several large pharmaceutical
companies including Eli Lilly and Merck, announced plans to post the names of
physicians who receive gifts or payments above $500 on the company Web sites
for public access in 2009 (Psychiatric News, October 17, 2008).
Cleveland Clinic's searchable physician directory can be accessed at<http://my.clevelandclinic.org>.▪