BACKGROUND: Payments to medical oncologists and clinical haematologists can negatively affect prescribing practice, but the extent of payments to these specialists is unknown in Australia.
AIMS: We aimed to analyse the extent of payments from the pharmaceutical industry to Australian cancer physicians as reported during the first collated period of the Disclosure Australia website.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of payments made from November 2018 to April 2019, using a file downloaded from the Disclosure Australia website. We checked the names of listed medical practitioners against Medical Board of Australia records to assign specialties. The number of medical oncologists, clinical haematologists, other specialist physicians and non-specialist physician medical practitioners was calculated, along with the payments to each of these groups.
RESULTS: A total of $7,332,407 was paid to 2775 medical practitioners. Of these, 236 were medical oncologists, 189 were haematologists and 1145 were other specialist physicians. This represents 31.7% of Australian medical oncologists and 30.9% of Australian haematologists, compared to 11.7% of all other specialist physicians and 1.1% of all other non-specialist physician medical practitioners. Medical oncologists received significantly higher payments (median $2,131.26) than other specialist physicians (median $1,376.00, 2-tailed p=0.004) and other medical practitioners (median $709.00, 2-tailed p<0.001), while haematologists received significantly higher payments (median $1,519.95) than other medical practitioners (2-tailed p<0.001), but similar payments to other specialist physicians (2-tailed p=0.08).
CONCLUSION: Australian cancer physicians receive payments at a higher proportional frequency and in greater dollar amounts than other specialist physicians and other medical practitioners in general. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.