Since 2016, drug makers have voluntarily published the amounts they pay to Swiss doctors, many of whom prescribe drugs to patients. In 2017 the sum was CHF 12.5 million, according to the association Science Industries.
In 2016, the same figure was CHF 14 million.
While drug makers publish the amounts paid, the information published does not always reveal the names of doctors receiving the money. Consumers of health services are therefore not always able to see how much money their doctor might have received and whether it might have influenced their choice of drugs.
In 2017, Bayer dished out CHF 865,000 anonymously, more than any other drug company. This sum was 62% of the total CHF 1.4 million it paid to Swiss doctors. In 2018, Bayer announced that it wanted to collaborate only with doctors willing to have their names revealed, according to RTS.
Most doctors declaring rewards received between CHF 500 and CHF 2,500.
The next biggest anonymous payer was MSD Merck Sharp & Dohme, which paid CHF 325,000 to anonymous doctors.
Drug companies say they reward doctors for involvement in clinical trials and training, an essential part of the healthcare sector. Some payments are for contributions for participation in scientific events and registration fees.
The Swiss Medical Association recognizes the risk of conflicts of interest and would like to see its members refrain from remaining anonymous when receiving money from drug makers.
Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has said it wants to limit payments to doctors to CHF 300 from 2020. It thinks payments of this size won’t influence prescription drug choice.
In addition to the the effect this money could have on patients is the effect it could have on the collective cost of health care – doctors might be induced to prescribe similar but more expensive drugs.
To check how much money your doctor might have received you’ll need to go to every drug company’s website and search their name. For example to check for payments from Bayer click here – this shows whether your doctor received any of the CHF 567,000 paid to those revealing their names. If this shows nothing they might still have received some of the CHF 865,000 paid anonymously. There is no way of knowing.