Global Physician Consulting Fees Not Equal

American physicians who do consulting work for pharmaceutical companies get paid roughly 13% more than their European counterparts. And reaching one rate globally might not be possible.

Physicians are important to pharmaceutical companies who need them to act as consultants, and a new study by Cutting Edge Information revealed that U.S. physicians are paid more for the same activities as European physicians.

Pharma companies have been looking to standardize compensation rates around the world, and yet, the study’s results were that Americans are receiving 13% more. The average hourly rate for U.S. physicians was calculated at $306, while European physicians were receiving EUR183. Calculations for the difference were based on May 2011’s exchange rate of 1.48.

CEI attributed the push toward determining a fair market value for physicians’ services to the trend “towards greater transparency around payments to health care providers.” The adoption of FMV would reduce the chances of companies being seen as offering kickbacks to physicians.

"Developing a global thought leader compensation plan can prove tricky," said Yanis Saradjian, Cutting Edge Information's director of consulting. "Not many companies had thought about global FMV for opinion leaders until this year. So finding the best practices to learn from takes time."

However, CEI’s study reports that a single, standard calculation model is impossible since a number of factors influence compensation.

“Global FMV strategy has developed organically, emphasizing local market nuances and customs,” the report reads. “At this time, without more formal regulation around [key opinion leaders (KOL)] compensation from governments in Europe or other parts of the world, companies should avoid establishing blanket policies or global fee schedules for KOLs.”