Colorado teaching hospitals overhaul conflict of interest rules

The University of Colorado Denver and its teaching hospitals will revamp conflict of interest policies after a ProPublica story published last month revealed professors and physicians were raking in big bucks from major drug companies for speaking and consulting.

Based on information from ProPublica's online database, Dollars for Docs, U.C. Denver conducted an internal review and found that 46 faculty members had extensive ties to the pharma industry, receiving payments from Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, among others.

The doctors--some of whom were paid six-figures--supposedly spoke on topics chosen by the companies and presented with company power-point slides, according to the Colorado Independent.

In response, the faculty senate held a meeting last week, where Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Richard Krugman proposed overhauling the current rules. "While we value and want to increase our relationships with industry around [drug] discovery ... we're going to just have to say we're not going to be involved with these speakers bureaus because they're primarily marketing," he said.

According to the ProPublica database, drug companies made 460 payments to Colorado doctors last year totaling more than $5.4 million, notes the Colorado Independent.

Until U.C. Denver completely reviews its conflict of interest policies, Krugman said he would not approve any new speaking contracts, although previously approved plans could remain in place.

For more:
- read the ProPublica article 1 and article 2
- read the Colorado Independent piece
- check out the Dollars for Docs database