It's unsettling to learn that companies that produce the drugs and devices doctors can choose to prescribe have paid Utah physicians $25.8 million since 2009. Although the companies say much of the money is for research to determine the efficacy of their products and consulting to make those products better, the amounts changing hands make the common practice questionable.
Some physicians are receiving money for things that have nothing to do with research trips and entertainment, for example. In the same way that big contributions to politicians can cast a shadow over policy decisions, large sums of money going into doctors' pockets may call into question some medical decisions, especially when it comes to expensive drugs, devices and treatments being peddled by Big Pharma.
According to the latest update on ProPublica's "Docs for Dollars" database, which keeps track of such payments, the sums going to Utah doctors have increased six times in four years. And the database only looks at 15 manufacturers that account for 47 percent of the U.S. drug market.