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Drug companies pay drug pusher MDs millions

latimes.com | 11/18/10

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About 48 of the more than 1,730 California doctors who received money from pharmaceutical companies over the past 21 months have been the subject of disciplinary action, a database compiled by the investigative news organization ProPublica found.

While that represents less than 3 percent of the California doctors who take pharmaceutical money, the fact that drug companies are paying those doctors - some of whom have multiple disciplinary actions - for their expertise calls into question how closely these companies vet the physicians who serve as the spokespeople for their drugs.

California doctors have received $28.6 million from top pharmaceutical companies since 2009, with at least three physicians collecting more than $200,000 and 36 others making more than $100,000 for promoting drug firm products. That cash flowing from drug companies to doctors has raised ethical concerns from some observers.

"If they're getting as much money from pharmaceutical companies as they do for being a doctor, what are they really? Are they working for a pharmaceutical company, or are they being a doctor?" asked Lisa Bero, a pharmacy professor at UCSF who studies conflicts of interest in medicine and research.

Bero also questioned why drug companies - which presumably would want medical leaders who could influence prescribing patterns - would use doctors with a history of disciplinary actions.

"Are those really the most influential physicians?" she asked. "I don't think they're (the drug companies) on top of this."

Company payments

Payments to doctors and other health professionals made by Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Cephalon, some of the world's largest drug companies, added up to more than $281.9 million in 2009 and 2010 nationwide. The figures do not include drug samples, the cost of continuing education programs, and meals brought to doctors' offices.

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A large percentage of our world believes what doctors tell them. I'm a personal trainer in Hawai'i and almost everyone i talk to thinks they need protein, protein, protein. The people with the most money make the rules. I think we need more people saying this is what's happening, BUT, WHAT THE F*#K ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT. We, always hear or read great stories. What we need to do is take these SOB's out behind the barn and give them (big pharma etc) a good old ass "kickin" (HERES THE PROBLEM, WHEN PEOPLE LIKE ME VOICE MY OPINION EVERYONE SAYS CALM DOWN THATS NOT GONNA FIX ANYTHING. WRONG ITS THE ONLY WAY ITS GONNA FIX ANYTHING). The powers to be, and the big companys of the world today, get away with things that would send ME - WE the people of the united states of america to jail for the rest of our lives. But, they get away with it everyday. WHAT ARE WE THE PEOPLE, OR SHOULD I SAY WHEN ARE WE THE PEOPLE GONNA QUIT TALKING AND TELLING STORIES AND START DOING SOMETHING. WE THE PEOPLE NEED TO TAKE BACK THE POWER WITH THE SUPPLY AND DEMAND PLAN. WE DONT BUY, THEY DONT SUPPLY. KEEP THE GOOD STORIES COMING AND LETS SHOW THESE COMPANYS WHO'S REALLY IN CONTROL. Mahalo & Aloha from the Island of Hawai'i.

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