Merck & Co has issued its first list of payments made to healthcare professionals as part of its bid to increase transparency.

The drugs major has issued a 55-page report detailing the payments it made to US-based medical and scientific professionals who speak on behalf of the company or its products in the third quarter. Merck paid out $3.7 million to 1,078 healthcare professionals.

A total of 2,493 talks were given and the speakers were paid $1,548 on average. The top earner got $22,693. Payments being made in the third and fourth quarters of 2009 will be combined and disclosed in early 2010 and data will be reported annually thereafter.

Chief executive Richard Clark said that “our reputation, and the trust that our customers place in us, depend in large part on how we conduct ourselves as a business". He added that "increasing the visibility of our activities across all aspects of our business will enhance the public’s trust and increase the level of knowledge and understanding of how Merck helps advance medical and scientific education and health care overall”.

The disclosure comes a few months after Eli Lilly posted payments to doctors and other healthcare professionals for lectures or advice and Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline will also be publishing similar lists.