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fizer has become the latest company to announce that it will start to disclose the vast majority of payments made to US healthcare professionals, as part of its “commitment to increased transparency and public candour”.

The disclosure will include payments made to doctors and other healthcare providers, as well as “principal investigators, major academic institutions and research sites for clinical research”. Pfizer said this move will make it “the first biopharmaceutical company to commit to reporting payments for conducting Phase I-IV clinical trials in addition to disclosing payments for speaking and consulting”.

The New York-based behemoth added that it plans to publish its first annual update in early 2010 and the report will include payments made from July 1, 2009 onwards. This will cover sums to recipients whose aggregate amount exceeds $500 in a calendar year, “including the value of non-monetary items, such as meals, that exceed $25 in value”. Pfizer also noted that the plans “reflect the spirit of recent proposed legislation regarding payments to physicians”.

These collaborations are an essential part of medical progress,” said chief executive Jeffrey Kindler. “Simply put, without these collaborations, Pfizer would not be able to continue delivering the medical innovations that the global health community has come to expect”. Last year, the company worked with almost 8,000 clinical investigators to conduct more than 280 studies.

Mr Kindler added that by disclosing payments to physicians, “we are breaking down a major barrier and increasing the trust healthcare providers must have when prescribing our medicines. To be viewed as an open, candid and transparent company, we must address the concerns of our customers and take action”.

The move was welcomed by Andrew Leuchter at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He said that it “sets a standard for transparency in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries”. He added that “policies such as these will help restore public confidence in the relationships physicians and academic medical centres have with the industry.”

However some observers noted that the disclosure plan does not cover specific payments to certain contributors to medical journal articles, such as technical medical writers.