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Dollars for Docs: The Top Earners

We’ve identified 22 doctors who’ve earned at least $500,000 since 2009.

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March 13: This post has been corrected.

When Dollars for Docs first launched in 2010, ProPublica spoke with several of the dozens of doctors who had earned more than $200,000 from their speaking and consulting work for drug companies. Now, with records from more companies and more years of data, we’ve identified 22 doctors who’ve earned at least $500,000 since 2009 — including one, Jon Draud, who was paid more than $1 million.

Most of these in-demand speakers hail from a just handful of states: four each from New York and Texas, and two each from California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Half are psychiatrists, including three of the top four earners. The most commonly represented drug companies are Merck and Pfizer — 15 of the 22 doctors speak or consult for each of them. And all but one of the doctors are men.

Amounts listed below are for speaking and consulting only; compensation for travel, meals, research and other categories is excluded. The disclosures include payments to doctors dating back to 2009 for many drug companies, though others do not go back as far.  If the recipients have separately disclosed relationships with drug companies that are not in Dollars for Docs, they are noted.

Jon Draud

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: University of Kentucky, Class of 1990

Amount: $1,009,213

Companies: AstraZeneca, Cephalon, Eli Lilly, Forest, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer

Draud, the medical director of the Psychiatric Hospitalist Program at Baptist Hospital and Middle Tennessee Medical Center, stated in a conference biography in 2010 that he has “delivered over 3,500 professional lectures to medical personnel.” Draud previously has disclosed financial relationships with Angelini-Biopharm, Sanofi-Aventis, Sunovion and Takeda.  He did not respond to requests for comment.

Gerald Sacks

Location: Santa Monica, Calif.

Board Certification: American Board of Anesthesiology

Medical School: University of Massachusetts, Class of 1983

Amount: $730,400

Companies: Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer

Sacks specializes in pain management. He declined to comment about his speaking when reached by ProPublica in March. He previously has disclosed a financial relationship with Abbott Laboratories.

John Miller

Location: Exeter, N.H.

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: University of Massachusetts, Class of 1986

Amount: $669,935

Companies: AstraZeneca, Forest, Pfizer

Miller is the medical director of Brain Health. He is also a staff psychiatrist at Seacoast Mental Health Center and a consulting psychiatrist at Exeter Hospital. Miller previously  disclosed a financial relationship with Sunovion. He did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Gustavo Alva

Location: Costa Mesa, Calif.

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: Autonomous University of Guadalajara, Class of 1990

Amount: $663,751

Companies: AstraZeneca, Forest, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer

Alva is the medical director of ATP Clinical Research, a private clinical research company specializing in neuropsychiatric investigations. He previously served as assistant clinical professor of psychiatryat the University of California, Irvine. Reached about his speaking, Alva told ProPublica, “I actually enjoy the aspect of educating my counterparts about developments in the field.”

Warren Joseph

Location: Philadelphia, Pa.

Medical School: Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 1981

Amount: $652,412

Companies: Merck, Pfizer, Valeant

Joseph is a podiatrist at Roxborough Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia. He is editor of the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association and a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "Yes, I go out and spread this information to my colleagues and it is often paid for by industry," Joseph said in an email to ProPublica, referring to diabetes research conducted in the private sector, including by pharmaceutical companies. "However, by doing so I know I have saved countless limbs and lives. Frankly, I don't see anything nefarious about that."

Lawrence DuBuske

Location: Gardner, Mass.

Board Certification: American Board of Allergy and Immunology

Medical School: Northwestern University, Class of 1978

Amount: $651,524

Companies: AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis

In 2010, DeBuske resigned from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston because the Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital had adopted a policy prohibiting its doctors from speaking on behalf of drug companies, according to the Boston Globe. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Henry A. Nasrallah

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: American University of Beirut, 1972

Amount: $647,341

Companies: AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer

Nasrallah, a psychiatrist, is an associate dean and professor at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine, as well as the director of its schizophrenia program. According to a guest speaker biography for a University of Arizona psychopharmacology course, Nasrallah served at the chair of Ohio State University’s psychiatry department for 12 years. Reached by ProPublica, he declined to comment.

John Osborne

Location: Grapevine, Texas

Board Certification: American Board of Internal Medicine

Medical School: Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Class of 1990

Amount: $622,286

Companies: AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis

John Osborne has a Ph.D. in cardiovascular physiology from Thomas Jefferson University. He completed postdoctoral training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is the founder and director of State of the Heart Cardiology and is a faculty member at the University of Texas at Arlington. Osborne agreed to a Texas Medical Board order on Feb. 8, 2013, that assessed a $3,000 administrative penalty and subjected his practice to periodic review by an outside monitor. The order says a nurse in Osborne’s office prescribed medications for a patient who had not been examined by Osborne or his nurse practitioner.  Osborne did not respond to requests for comment.

Ronald Balkissoon

Location: Denver, Colo.

Medical School: McMaster University, Class of 1988

Amount: $613,612

Companies: AstraZeneca, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis

Balkissoon specializes in pulmonary disease. He previously served as an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Balkissoon previously has disclosed financial relationships with Boehringer Ingelheim and Genentech. He could not be reached for comment.

Rakesh Jain

Location: Lake Jackson, Texas

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: University of Calcutta

Amount: $582,049

Companies: Forest, Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer

Jain specializes in psychiatry and serves as director of psychiatric drug research for R/D Clinical Research in Lake Jackson. Jain previously has disclosed financial relationships with AstraZeneca, Addrenex, Pamlab, Shionogi, Shire and Sunovion. Reached about his speaking, Jain told ProPublica, “I am not a marketer, I am an educator.”

Matthew Brams

Location: Houston, Texas

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: University of Texas at Houston, Class of 1987

Amount: $571,955

Companies: AstraZeneca, Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer

Brams, a psychiatrist, serves as director of Depelchin Children’s Center and Bayou City Research. Brams also serves as a senior national board examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Reached about his speaking, Brams told ProPublica that companies were interested in his research involving their drugs and had approached him: “When you’re an investigator, you may be one of only a handful of doctors who has information on them.”

David A. Rizzieri

Location: Durham, N.C.

Board Certification: American Board of Internal Medicine

Medical School: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Class of 1991

Amount: $567,300

Companies:Cephalon, Novartis,GlaxoSmithKline

Rizzieri specializes in cell therapy and hematologica at Duke Medicine, part of the Duke University Health System, where he completed a fellowship. Reached by ProPublica, Rizzieri said in an email that he is doing less industry-sponsored speaking and has refocused his efforts on a program at the university’s Division of Cellular Therapy called “Duke Debates,” which engages physicians, nurses and pharmacists in education and research initiatives.

Stanley Nasraway

Location: Boston, Mass.

Board Certification American Board of Internal Medicine

Medical School: University of Southern California, Class of 1983

Amount: $552,775

Companies: GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer

Nasraway is director of the surgical intensive care unit at Tufts New England Medical Center. He also serves as an associate professor of Tufts Medical School and has been member of clinical advisory board at Echo Therapeutics since 2005. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Todd Hess

Location: St. Paul, Minn.

Board Certification: American Board of Anesthesiology

Medical School: University of Minnesota, Class of 1986

Amount: $542,900

Companies: Forest, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer

Hess is director of United Pain Center, a clinic based at United Hospital in St. Paul that specializes in treating chronic pain. Reached about his speaking, Hess told ProPublica, “I don’t feel like I’m a salesman at all. I feel like I’m educating physicians.”

Prakash Masand

Location: New York, N.Y.

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: University of Bombay, Class of 1982

Amount: $538,864

Companies: AstraZeneca, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer

Masand, a psychiatrist, is the founder and CEO of Global Medical Education, a digital medical education resource. He previously served as director of therapeutic area development, neurosciences medicine at the Duke Clinical Research Institute and was a consulting professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke Medical Center. Reached by ProPublica, he declined to comment.

Leslie Citrome

Location: Suffern, N.Y.

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: McGill University, Class of 1983

Amount: $530,569

Companies: AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer

Citrome is a psychiatrist at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Suffern. He has researched schizophrenia and has a master’s in public health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Reached by ProPublica, Citrome declined to comment about his speaking work.

Vladimir Maletic

Location: Greer, S.C.

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: University of Belgrade, Class of 1981

Amount: $527,850

Companies: Cephalon, Eli Lilly, Merck

Maletic specializes in psychiatry. He completed a residency in psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, followed by a residency in child psychiatry at Duke University. Reached by ProPublica about his speaking, Maletic said he believes that “good quality education about pharmaceutical products may be beneficial to both physicians and their patients.”

Robert Busch

Location: Albany, N.Y.

Board Certification: American Board of Internal Medicine

Medical School: University of Pennsylvania, Class of 1978

Amount: $527,688

Companies: AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis

Busch is an endocrinologist. Reached about his speaking by ProPublica, Busch said he gives about 100 talks a year, most of them in the Northeast. “I don’t know why they choose me, but they do,” Busch said of the companies that contact him about speaking. Busch said he has turned down offers to speak about drugs that he doesn’t endorse, including Avandia, a diabetes drug that remains available despite a U.S. Food and Drug Administration study that recommended taking it off the market.

Elizabeth Race

Location: Dallas, Texas

Board Certification: American Board of Internal Medicine

Medical School: University of Texas at Galveston, Class of 1991

Amount: $516,070

Companies: GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Viiv

Race specializes in infectious disease. Reached about her speaking ProPublica, she said her industry sponsored work helped pay for trips to train doctors in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in South Africa and Belize. “It has been a blessing to do AIDS and TB work funded by that kind of money,” she said. Race, who was formerly affiliated with the University of Texas Southwestern, emphasized that she is now self-employed and is not bound by universityconflict-of-interest policies.

Sanjay Gupta

Location: Buffalo, N.Y.

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: University of Delhi, Class of 1984

Amount: $515,329

Companies: AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis

Sanjay Gupta is a clinical professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University, where he completed his residency, as well as at SUNY at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He was formerly president of Global Research & Consulting, Inc. Gupta did not return calls from ProPublica. He is not the Sanjay Gupta who is chief medical correspondent for CNN.

James Woods

Location: Memphis, Tenn.

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Medical School: University of Tennessee, Class of 1991

Amount: $512,306

Companies: AstraZeneca, Forest, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer

Woods practices with the Psychiatry Group in Memphis. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Matthew Berger

Location: Moosic, Pa.

Medical School: Not Listed

Amount: $504,100

Companies: AstraZeneca, Cephalon, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer

Berger, who specializes in forensic psychiatry, has a practice near Scranton, Pa. Berger’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Correction: This post mistakenly listed Warren Joseph’s location as Coatesville, Pa. In fact, he sees patients in Philadelphia and has not worked in Coatesville for several years. This post has also been updated with comments from Joseph.

Frank Giramonti

March 12, 2013, 11:05 a.m.

None of the physicians you have listed have broken any laws, in fact the majority of these doctors have done very positive things for their patients and their communities. You are trying to depict these physicians as criminals. Most top end lawyers are getting as much as 500-600 dollars per hour. When are we to see a piece on overpriced lawyers. And again does your editor in chief deserve $500,000.00 per year for running a non profit.

Frank Giramonti

March 12, 2013, 11:57 a.m.

I would suggest you go to the following link http://mediactive.com/2009/10/01/non-profit-media-what-you-pay-for-and-who-pays/    and tell me how bad these docs are compared to whats at this link, in particular what Mr. Engleberg makes?

Now THIRD World’s copying US, We immediately need to make drastic change in rules of our Top Courts & N/American law, foreign policy manufacturing process.

It’s now, if not modified, a continuing fiasco!

WHATS DISGRACEFUL IS MANY WHO WILL NOT HELP MS WITH CCSVI BECAUSE THEY ARE LIVING LAVISH LIFESTYLES ON DRIG PROFITS AND SHARES ALONG WITH PRIVATE PATIENTS MONEY TOO

No - they probably haven’t broken any laws but, as paid lecturers, how can they not lobby for the product(s) of the corporation(s) writing their honorarium check(s)?  In addition, the information and presentation materials given to these paid lecturers may not fully disclose the benefits/risks of the advertised products.  Did the paid lecturers also disclose the risks to their audiences of taking Vioxx or Avandia?  Or the metal-to-metal hip prostheses?  Outstanding speakers with clinical/research experience should be rewarded for preparing and giving their presentations - but perhaps the money should come from a generic source whose contributors may include private pharmaceutical and medical device companies.  This would avoid any implicit or implied fiduciary obligation owed by the paid lecturer to the check writer.

DRUGS excuse spellings

Frank Giramonti… focus! You’re absolutely right about outlandish salaries paid by non-profits to administrators (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten.detail&listid=8), and extortionist practices by some attorneys, etc., but this report is about just one niche in that same “legal but questionable” aspect of American society… the cozy relationship among some in trusted positions in the medical field and some pharmaceutical companies.

Way too many have cosy relationships with the pharmas and often wonders how many of their patients have died as a result of thr drugs prescribed . Any drug taken over a lenghth of time is FATAL . Many MS drugs are deadly also . Its fueled by GEED and CORRUPTIONS to the core

So, when will we see a similar article with pictures called “Dollars for Dems?” We have a Dem House Rep from our district, who lost his job at a University because he was too stupid to know how to apply for government grant money. The Democrat Machine ran him for a House seat. He won and has been there for almost two decades. He didn’t have a pot to piss in before he went to Congress, now he is a multimillionaire. There have to be others like him. So, let’s here from “Anti-Pro Publica” about them, or does this medium only carry the water for the usual corrupt Democrat agenda?

You do not have [fill in with any disease] because your body doesn’t make enough chemicals from (choose one of the following: AstraZeneca, Cephalon, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer) - get it?

Unfortunately, our medical system is driven by money, money, and more money.  This bunch has just figured the way to better milk the system.  Greedy?  Yes, of course.  Illegal?  No.  Ethical?  Hardly.

I think it is interesting to note how many psychiatrists are on the list when you consider the prevalence of advertising for psychotropic drugs. It appears to be a two pronged effort to sell a product, very possibly to the exclusion of others, depending on the sponsor.

Some time ago I read a report on pain medications in which newer drugs were found to be no more effective than older drugs that no longer enjoyed patent protection and are now sold as generics. I wonder if the same thing is true of psychotropic drugs as well.

There are so many organizations who should unite and beat this horrific, evil, greedy practice.  Reminds me of all the rescue groups for animals, but millions of the animals are put to death.

This is about marketing, no educating.  The drugs promoted can cost $20K/year per patient prescription so if a small % of physicians prescribe the drug, huge profits can be realized.  The speakers know exactly what is going on.  True it is not illegal but is it ethical?

By the way, I am a lowly Internist and was told by a pharm rep that they can no longer buy me a cup of coffee in a coffee shop.  The rules only apply to certain physicians!

Whatta know? Half these “docs” are quack psychiatrist. Anyone who drugs kids should be hung.

Paying doctors to present to doctors makes sense. Who else is a doctor going to listen to? What’s missing here is evidence of deficiency or malfeasance. The focus is on money alone, and money, by itself, is a poor indicator of anything. Yes, Big Pharma is big business. We all know that. If you want to blow the lid off of some wrong-doing, you’re going to have to find some real evidence that there was either misrepresentation or malpractice involved in such a time tested means of marketing as a medical conference where doctors are asked to promote drugs. Yes, I’d love to see the industry reined in as much as the next patient who feels at the mercy of the insurance industry, but innuendo isn’t the way to do it.

When you state that “...such a time tested means of marketing as a medical conference where doctors are asked to promote drugs” you are simply advocating for physicians to lobby for pharma.

Have any of those posting comments ever been to one of these lectures?  Because I have…dozens over the years…and they are informational with details about the medications themselves, trials, side-effects, etc and lots of Q&A from the audience about how to prescribe, alternate choices and so forth.  Educational.  It’s how doctors learn about new medications and how to use them.  And, by the way, did anyone consider that the time a doctor devotes to these lectures is time away from his practice?  And for the vast majority of doctors, if you don’t see patients you don’t get paid.  So for a psychiatrist who would typically make $200-$300 per hour seeing patients, doing consultations, rounding on inpatients, it would be necessary for drug companies to compensate them for their lost revenue.

I have, in fact, given such lectures (early in my career) at local bistros where the physicians and their wives were offered cocktails in addition to anything on the menu.  The honorarium was always good.  Pharma provided the slides, the visuals, and the trinkets.  But my conscience finally trumped because the same information was available from my colleagues, at hospital section meetings, from hospital pharmacists, from pharma representatives, journals, and regional/national meetings. My role was simply that of a lobbyist for pharma.

Alex Alva M.D.

March 16, 2013, 3:13 p.m.

It is amazing to see how physicians are demonized, we should be the thought leaders and the science bringers not the bureaucrats and the attorneys, the fact that someone speaks for pharma is no illegal or immoral, it is called education and free enterprise, the fact that someone works in clinical research is the reason why we have the best medical care and medications in the world.
Fat cat doctors?  Tell me of another profession where you spend at least 15 years after high school and have to curtail immediate gratification.
People should be compensated for hard work and for having business sense.
Lets stop the sensationalism and look at the facts, these people work for a living, how they do it is up to them, why don’t we look at politicians, attorneys or other professions and their junkets, we are driving the best and brightest to other areas other than medicine.
Maybe when our population is sick or our medications are old and there are not enough MD’s or the ones we have are mediocre we will turn to the attorneys for advice.

We all know most politicians, lawyers etc. are paid off money whores, doctors were supposed to be the exception. But in 2013 America everything and everyone is for sale. You are exactly what is wrong Dr. Alva.

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