Journalism in the Public Interest

Docs on Pharma Payroll Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials

Hundreds of doctors paid by pharmaceutical companies to promote their drugs have been accused of professional misconduct, were disciplined by state boards or lacked credentials as researchers or specialists, ProPublica has found. We compiled data from seven companies, covering $257.8 million in payouts since 2009 for speaking, consulting and other duties

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Steve Hartwell

Oct. 20, 2010, 5:28 p.m.

>dishonorable actions and people in every industry
> The cost to tax payers for the cheating “patients”

agreeed and do something about those too, keeping in mind i’ll bet that most of them cheat because the costs of health care are criminally way too high



which, imho, is a far more serious situation of crimes against humanity.

you rightist conservative redneck :-)

Betsy Jacobson

Oct. 20, 2010, 5:41 p.m.

C’mon, Steve, let’s not call people names, but let’s, instead, try to air our differences so that we can educate each other with important facts.  Facts that might help reduce crimes against humanity. 

I could tell you doctor stories that would stand your hair on end.  And I DO tell them, and thousands of patients have shared their stories with me.  What they DON’T share is much knowledge of doctors’ corrupt relationships with Big Pharma, because they don’t know much about this.  That’s too bad, because they need to be more diligent about the meds they take and ask their doctors directly about their relationships with Big Pharma. 

Does anyone have any suggestion(s) about how to educate the patient?  I’ve been trying to do this for 19 years, but doctors aren’t thrilled with my attitude, so they stand in my way.  I’m not thrilled with their attitudes either.

Dana Todd

Oct. 20, 2010, 6:06 p.m.

Anecdotal: I can attest that at least once a year my gyno has introduced topics and potential medical treatments with me based on pharma influence. I know this because he’ll have me fill out questionnaires that have pharma branding/disclosure on it, or the brand he prescribes matches the little color printed flip-chart educational materials, or I go in with a mild infection and he wants to investigate a long-term preventive care medication, etc. I have learned to take with a grain of salt, and to refuse ideas that don’t mesh with my instincts and experience. Why not change doctors? Too much trouble after all these years, I suppose, and a known risk (shill doctor) is better than an unknown risk.

As to the article and its core concern about pharma doing deeper fact-checking on its KOLs, I think you can point to any industry and find sloppy work. Just look at the foreclosures scandal occurring right now. Not excusing it, but it does beg the question as to why companies aren’t finding better ways to make fewer mistakes. Certainly pharma can afford it, but most of the companies recruiting KOLs use the same people over and over, for the reasons described (and core to effective advertising theory): repetition breeds awareness; awareness breeds familiarity, which in turn breeds trust. From there, it’s simply a matter of staying top of mind until a situation occurs to tip the trust into decision/action.


Oct. 20, 2010, 6:08 p.m.

Doctors can no longer be trusted it seems they are all bought by the drug companies who in turn overcharge the public for prescriptions . God the greed of this country is beyond pathetic and I trust 99% of doctors as far as I can throw them! Time for people to try being their own doctor or go overseas for medical care. Maybe they have doctors that got into the profession to actually care for patients. Unlike The USA doctors that became doctors to own Mcmansions and BMWs! If theres a doctor that can prove my comment wrong? I need a honest primary care doctor!!! LOL


Oct. 20, 2010, 6:41 p.m.

Sincere thanks for your research and database. ceg

F.E. Blackman

Oct. 20, 2010, 9:24 p.m.

I can recall one Pharmaceutical Company sponsoring a dinner at a very nice restaurant and getting a speaker froma University close by to speak of a ‘new’ painkiller that had been derived from one of the oldest and best pain killers known.  They represented that, among other things, this new drug was less addicting than morphine and I remember believing it because of the person who gave the lecture.  Many people have died and others have gone to jail because of activities associated with Oxycontin. 
  There is no doubt that these companies have been bribing medical schools, professors and doctors for longer than we know.  The newspapers are full of stories where these firms pay what seem to be large sums of money so that they may avoid court cases.  Some medical schools have banned them and their reps from coming on to their premises because of their willingness to compromise physicians and patients for profit.  Look at the Avandia story.  The doctor whoo attempted to reveal its dangers more than ten years ago was targeted by them for professional destruction.  He was correct and they were shown to be wrong many years and deaths later.
The Health care profession is much like Real Estate, Banking and Finance.  If you cannot verify, do not trust.  Hopefully we will change.

Saunders Jones

Oct. 20, 2010, 10:33 p.m.

Why not make physicians like firefighters or cops?  We will pay for their education, then they go to work.  Like teachers, firefighters, and cops, they will make a reasonable salary and work for the county or state.  We will again attract the kind of person who entered the medical field years ago—the kind of person who cares for his patient and loves the profession.  I don’t think we would have any trouble attracting good candidates, and the ones in it for the bucks would drop to the way side.  Only then will the “high cost of medicine” be curtailed.

Steve Hartwell

Oct. 20, 2010, 11 p.m.

Is anybody here aware that the big global pharmaceutical companies are in the process right now of making it impossible for people to file class action or individual lawsuits against them ? - everywhere ? That’s right, soon nobody anywhere on this planet will be able to sue pharmaceutical companies for bad products nor the results of those bad products, namely making us sick and die.

My 83 year old mother is being prescribed to death. She gets prescribed drugs to treat the side effects of other drugs, and prescribed more drugs to treat all those other drugs’ side effects. And, all ‘they’  will say about it is - don’t believe nor worry about everything you read - and - she’s old, it’s not drugs side effects.

One of the drugs in her cupboard is on the Beers List of drugs that old people should never take, yet, she has it.

At least 38 percent of seniors get prescribed a Beers List drug.

Is that the kind of world we all want ?

Can they get away with doing this ?

Yes, they can. It will happen, is happening, and will be irreversable before it can be stopped.

jamie south

Oct. 21, 2010, 1:52 a.m.

Regarding the psychiatrist Dr. Karin Leslie Hastik: In addition to her receiving payment from drug companies, see the Attorney General’s Office of California’s final decision and disciplinary order brought against her in May 2010. The Medical Board of California revoked her license for: Extreme departure from the Standard of Care, Unprofessional Conduct, Gross Negligence/Repeated Negligence, Prescribing without Prior Examination/Tests/Medical Indication and Inadequate Medical Records.” The revocation was stayed and she is on probation for five years with numerous burdensome and onerous terms and conditions. The decision almost went against her regarding Dishonesty charges as well. If you read the decision, you will see on p. 10 (item #43) the extent of her dishonesty.

To see the Medical Board’s decision, go to the Medical Board of California website and search by her name (after clicking on “Enforcement”.

Here is what Dr. Hastik was paid from her work for Pharmaceutical companies in 2009 and 2010:

Eli Lilly—$73,900
Eli Lilly—$16,808

Salvatore DiChristina

Oct. 21, 2010, 6:20 a.m.

It would seem that the major purpose of advocating a particular medication would be to help the patient. It seems at times, not only the medical profession but also the FDA, and the Center for Disease Control run amiss of this tenet. I hark back to the days of the pregnancy medication whose name now eludes me , when European medical authorities banned the use of that medication a few years before we even considered banning it. There should be no rewards for advocating one drug over another by physicians who are being paid by the makers of those medications. No respectable university should have on its research staff, professionals who are paid by companies that have a vested interest in promoting their medications. Universities and the government should be influence free from vested interest and should only be interested in the merits or demerits of a medication. Furthermore, this data should be in the public domain once a decision on the effectiveness of a medication is determined by unpaid and unbiased researchers.


Oct. 21, 2010, 6:40 a.m.

The sad thing is that this database does not (and cannot) take into account all of the “soft money” and gratuities that doctors receive from Big Pharma. There are doctors who are HEAVILY courted by the drug reps. So much so that patients are left sitting in the waiting room while some drug dealer in a suite and tie or a short skirt are in back with the doc for long periods of time making deals and leaving “free samples.” I know this for a fact because I’ve dropped FOUR doctors because of their offices are always filled with drug sales reps. They come in and buy lunch for all of the doctor’s staff. I’ve seen them go out and drop $100 on lunch for the employees. One employee complained that there was nothing to drink. Mr. Drug rep jumped up from his seat in the waiting room and took their drink orders and went out and go them. I got up and left. I live in Ohio. I checked the list. My mother’s Pulmonologist is in the database several times. He receives quite a bit of money from big Pharma. This story is absolutely correct that the doctors who receive money from the drug companies are NOT good doctors. My mother had obstructive sleep apnea and COPD. She was able to manage the COPD with a mild respiratory drug therapy before going to this doctor. This particular pulmonologist told her not to wear her Bi-pap machine if she didn’t want to. He then started to increase her COPD medicines with alarming frequency. We left his office with a GROCERY BAG full of “new goodies.” He tried to put her on 12 different meds at the same time for her mild COPD. We got her away from him. We never saw the drug reps in his office but he has a room full of every med under the sun—“free samples.” He also heavily writes prescriptions for certain cold meds when there is no need for them. He insisted on giving us a Tamiflu script in July when my mother was not sick and showed no signs of a cold.

He never helped my mother. We began to check up on all of these drugs and found out that they were all very strong and potentially dangerous when mixed with her current meds. We threw them out and never went back to this quack.

There should be laws to protect the public from the legalized drug pushers who pay quacks to push their dope on the public.

I am outraged and horrified about this. I pray that something is done to put a stop to this once and for all—hard money and soft money.

Boo Radly

Oct. 21, 2010, 7:25 a.m.

Tort law was changed under the Bu$h administration. Once a drug is approved by the FDA - their mistakes are covered except death of a patient. I am disappointed in the Beers list - fluoroquinolones are black boxed against giving to people over 60, tendon ruptures are mentioned and yet they did are prescribed. What happens quite frequently is a permanently crippled patient along with multiple other ADR’s. The doctor is either “unaware” or dishonest - they get a permanently patient looking for relief. The standard treatment for a floxed person is constant testing by many different specialists. Zero to none acknowledge known damages caused by being floxed. It requires so many different regulatory agencies to be stuck on stupid - but that is what is happening. Europe is far ahead of the US in health care. Could it be our corporate government’s laws created to protect them?

I crack up when reading medicine guidelines - always consult your physician - never fall for that. You know your body - use common sense. Also beware of terms like “standard of care” used by a physician.

The group to target for education should be parents - they have vested interests in their children and hopefully elderly parents. The attitudes of some of our health care providers is quite poor as shown by an academic’s looong letter in this thread - he’s happy with the status quo - just wants more.

F.E. Blackman

Oct. 21, 2010, 7:30 a.m.

The rates for suicide, drug abuse, divorce and premature death are higher among physicians than among the populations served by them.  I assume that greed, avariceand dishonesty are adjuncts along with other undesirable traits.  On the other side, and receiving far less publicity are those who abserve closely the tenets of their upbringing/religion/natural tendency to adapt the approach of “there but for the grace of God, go I”.  Sometimes challenging but always rewarding, albeit not financially.  Please notice how some so called specialties are falling off the map.  The Botox injectors who often use substances with consideration only to their income, the Diet experts who peddle expensive drugs which are alleged to help in weight reduction but are yet to keep that weight off.  Many of these alleged doctors are unable to get enough free food and trips from the purveyors of inhumane drugs and practices.  The various Medical Organizations (too many to mention) receive largesse (hotel rooms, trips, “grants” (bribes) , speaking fees) from the Drug manufacturers.  This encourages them to suppress information on overeating and its horrible consequences, controlling the intake of poisons such as fat, sugar and salt and the use of physical activity froman early age.  None of these ideas is new.
Some Medical Schools (I think that Brown is one) are reaching out to students from the non science/math undergraduate group and are including, I think, some from arts and humanities.  The results so far indicate that the academic outcome is similar hwereas the humanity encased in the physian product is worthy of favorable comment.  Hopefully this expanded approach coupled with harsh and constructive criticism will push healthcare in the right direction where grabeliciousness and greed do not trump that oft quoted “first do no harm”.  The FDA and other regulatory bodies will probably staff itself appropriately with minimal use of quislings and enforce the laws which exist against the crimes mentioned in the article.  In the meantime we may continue to trust our individual docs only after verification.  They have had a long time to develop deceptions that the best of us cannot detect and even as these doctors deceive thay ae woefully unaware of even this.


Oct. 21, 2010, 7:48 a.m.

Blackman’s comment: “The doctor whoo attempted to reveal its dangers more than ten years ago was targeted by them for professional destruction.”

There are several ethical professors, doctors, etc. who have also tried to point out gross mis-reporting of “studies” who have been professionally attacked and outcast because they did not toe (Dr. James Enstrom, Dr. Carl Phillips, Dr. Michael Siegel).  I am most upset that epidemiologists are bastardizing studies so they can continue to get funding.  Johnson & Johnson uses their “non” profit, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to pay “grants” for studies that result in laws that drive the need for J&J products…products that are addictive and some, ineffective.  I’m outraged that a LARGE majority of those who wrote a federal guideline for doctors and clinicians have received funding from RWJF.  I’m even more outraged at the special interests (RWJF especially) who are tring to force people to change their behavior or risk being outcast and hated/shunned.  RWJF CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said she was drawn to RWJF by the opportunity to “alter the trajectory and to push society to change for the better”.  She thinks “philanthropy is about simultaneously improving individual lives, transforming systems and in turn, achieving lasting social change.” 

Social change?  Is this America?  I don’t recognize it anymore.  How can big pHARMa use their non profit to buy laws from which they profit from the drugs that are pushed?

George Laszlo

Oct. 21, 2010, 8:51 a.m.

First, a disclaimer: I have been working in the biopharma industry for close to 40 years and I am proud of what it has accomplished. Having said that, here are some thoughts:

1. Yes, the industry should do a better job selecting speakers if only to assure that meeting participants can’t question the integrity of those speakers;

2. Accept that we live in a world of supply and demand. If other organizations/groups came up with better programs than the pharma industry, that is what physicians would attend. So, where is this competition?

3. Related to #2, if physicians truly cared about their professional development, they would be willing to pay for it. Instead, they look for free meetings or deliberately go to conferences in exotic locations because they can write them off on their tax returns.

4. Physicians who agree to be speakers do so primarily because they are enthusiastic about the benefits of the drugs they are discussing. Yes, like in the rest of society, some of them are just greedy. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Betsy Jacobson

Oct. 21, 2010, 9:26 a.m.

Re the Beers list and the elderly (hah! I AM one - !‘m 72)), my late brother-in-law, the doctor, used to tell me that he never paid much attention to older folks or worked very hard on them becasue they were going to die soon anyway.

He was a geriatarician.

What % of the doctor population would you guess thinks similarly?

F.E. Blackman

Oct. 21, 2010, 9:32 a.m.

George Lazlo wrote ‘

2. Accept that we live in a world of supply and demand. If other
organizations/groups came up with better programs than the pharma industry,
that is what physicians would attend. So, where is this competition?

3. Related to #2, if physicians truly cared about their professional
development, they would be willing to pay for it. Instead, they look for
free meetings or deliberately go to conferences in exotic locations because
they can write them off on their tax returns.

4. Physicians who agree to be speakers do so primarily because they are
enthusiastic about the benefits of the drugs they are discussing. Yes, like
in the rest of society, some of them are just greedy.

All pharmaceuticals are not bad and all Pharmaceutical companies are not disingenuous and deceitfull all of the time.  Many of their reps are honest and learn and dispense the information (often sparse and faulty) which their employers provide.  Pharmaceutical reps are rewarded from their sales which are not always associated with efficacy of their product.

Supply and demand?  Of what and by whom?  The saprophytic association between the Pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare (sickness care) entities does on many an occasion put the victim (patient) at more risk than the patient and doctor may realize.  An indicted co-conspirator in this is the so called insurance company.  It is a web that has been so well contrived and has existed for so long that many of those involved in the deceit are really unaware that they are.  It had taken decades for a few medical institutions to bar Pharma and their reps from their premises and this happened only after a select section of the media reported on poorly disguised sweetheart deals between manufacturers and sickness care institutions.

When one attends Conferences (paying passages, hotel rooms, registration and food out of ones pocket) the CME’s that one attends have often been presented by so called academics who arrived there on the dime of big pharma, using material prepared by big pharma and doing their bidding so that they may get many more trips.  Ask people like Braunwald and Laragh who are/were “giants” in the field of medicine about the wonderful associations that labs may have had with big pharma.

I agree that there are dishonest and worse to be found among physicians.  Many have enjoyed incarceration in Federal and State facilities for their deeds.  I am unaware of any big pharma leadership that has gone that route for the many inhuman misdeeds which they propogated and knowingly promoted for profit.  Human beings have suffered and died because of this.  Much like the 1% at the top of the economic ladder in America, big pharma gets away with a lot while those of us at lower levels pay the price, occasionally with our lives and livelihood.


Oct. 21, 2010, 10:04 a.m.

What is the % of board certified physicians vs the % of non-board certified that are paid to speak for big

What is the % of women and minorities speaking vs white males?


George Laszlo

Oct. 21, 2010, 10:22 a.m.

Wow, your comments (FE Blackman) bring back great memories. If my brain serves me right, Braunwald and Laragh put beta blockers on the map. Would anyone argue that this was not a great thing?

Since we are now talking about the late 1970’s, is it not true that we have also come a long way to discourage unethical behavior in this industry? I think we have. But we need to go a lot further. Let’s be constructive about how we do it. I’d love to hear some creative solutions to the problems we are discussing here. Once the venting has played itself out, we still need to make progress.

A.G., MD.

Oct. 21, 2010, 10:37 a.m.

As a physician, it fascinates me to read all these doctors bashing comments allowing some people vent their anger.  It does not seem to me that the intent of the article was to expose bad doctors and the negligence of drug companies.  The title of the article does not suggest that. It leads the leader to become suspicious of their doctor whether he/she was a good doctor or a corrupt one.  It is true that there are bad doctors everywhere who should not be allowed to practice at all.  But to focus only on this area of drug companies paying doctors to promote their drugs would be missing the bigger reason for increased health care cost, or the quality of our doctors.  Why does the government allow drug companies to advertise expensive drugs to the public, especially on TV? forcing some reluctant doctors to prescribe anyway.  Why does the FDA approve drugs the are essentially recycled into new names just to extend the patent?  Why does the government allow drug companies to distribute discount co-payment cards while the price of the drug is extremely high and has to be paid for by the insurance company? which will result in higher premiums.  Why does the government allow the insurance companies to keep raising premiums only to cut services and give their CEOs millions of dollars in bonuses? I don’t think that the public knows that none of the premium increases are passed on to the providers.  I for one,and I am sure all doctors, have been getting paid the same fees for their services for the past 15 years despite steady increase in overhead cost such as employees salaries, rent, malpractice, technology, etc.  I do speak for some drug companies and what I get paid for preparing the lecture, travel time and the lecture itself is not much more than what I would get if I stayed in may office and saw patients.  Some of us need a break and may enjoy the social professional contact with other doctors.  We present the facts about the drug with both its benefits and potential harm.  This actually is appreciated by many doctors who would like to learn something about a drug that they may have to prescribe anyway. So if we get paid for the service we are now called “doctors on drug companies payroll”.  The income from those companies for most of us would not make a difference if we spent the same amount of time seeing patients.

In the end, we don’t want the drug companies to go out of business if we want to cure cancer, aids, schizophrenia, autoimmune diseases and others.  Yes , these companies should not make huge profits, yet they should be allowed to operate in a free capitalistic system within the law.  Everyone needs to remember what the banking and the mortgage industries have done to the economy and the huge bonuses their top management received.

You should check out your doctor and some are bad, but we are not the enemies you need to attack.  Who knows, one of us might save your life.

Betsy Jacobson

Oct. 21, 2010, 11:15 a.m.

I agree with almost everything you wrote, Dr. A.G. I also think that we must look at why we “doctor bash.”  We have spent all of our lives accepting everything all our doctors tell us. Disagree with them?  Never.  NEVER! So we have played in to the delusions of grandeur most doctors enjoy, and now we go around saying, “naughty, terrible you.”

So, the time has come for both of us to face reality, and it’s not a pretty one. It’s unfortunate but necessary to share info with patients about doctors’ mistakes, doctors’ lack of caring and interest, hospitals’ mistakes, Big Pharma corruption which has affected doctors, patients AND insurance companies. People really need to learn the truth, and doctors are not happy about helping to disseminate it.  Publishers are so doctor adoring that they wouldn’t publish my book about this subject. So people aren’t really going to learn the truth very soon and their lives are at stake.

The truth is that there are. of course, some terrific, caring doctors on this earth.  I have 1100 of them in my data base who have agreed to treat Fibromyalgia(FM).  They’re recommended to me by satisfied patients.  And over 25,000 patients have asked me for their names in their areas.  I don’t advertize, I don’t even have a web site, ‘though I’m included on lots of other people’s web sites.

Why am I so popular?  Because these people are desperate for doctors who will treat them better than their current ones.  And this is only for the treatment of FM whose prevalence is only about 10% of the general population.

I’m delighted that you get paid for travel, lecturing, etc.  I DON’T.  I’m not a doctor, yet I’ve been asked to speak at several conferences around the country, and I can’t do that anymore, because I can’t afford to do it. I’m facing foreclosure in 2 weeks, and I’m still not lucky enough to be paid for what I do.  Have I received a few unsolicited grants?  Yup.  But they don’t pay the rent.

Now - if drug companies were REALLY doing a good thing for society they would CURE DISEASES.  Instead, they keep working and working on"new” (mostly copy cat) drugs that will help patients feel better and will, of course, require them to stay on these drugs, perhaps, for a lifetime.  This is good business. TO FIND A CURE WOULD MEAN A TREMENDOUS LOSS TO BIG PHARMA’S BOTTOM LINE. Taking a med for a couple of weeks or even a year would be far less profitable than taking those drugs for a lifetime.
FIGURE OUT HOW MANY COPY CAT DRUGS THERE ARE OUT THERE.  Almost every drug IS a me-too drug.  All that time and money re-inventnig a drug as soon as a patent is about to expire should be spent looking for cures instead.

You have read here how some people do their own research on meds without taking a vacation to learn about them or taking direct cash to do the same.

It’s possible, isn’t it?

Boo Radly

Oct. 21, 2010, 11:50 a.m.

Physicians are the closest to the patient - the last safety gate. They are even required to take an oath. Something about - do not harm.

I believe you AG - all your “why” questions above can be answered with the same word - $$$. But I am sure it has no effect on you. Ah, one of us might save save your life…....  the odds of that are getting wider everyday.  The higher premiums give the insurance companies more money so they can pay more physicians and keep higher profits - did you miss that fact. And guess what, as long as physicians play stupid regarding several drugs on the market - everyone in the health care business wins - longer hospital stays, those mysterious symptoms they cause just take for eveh to diagnose. Meanwhile the patient is sometimes in excruciating pain and maybe a “little” concerned, not to mention bankrupted.

I see it as a moral, ethical failure. The physicians know all about this - most make no effort to correct it. It’s a win-win for all health care enitities. Only the patient suffers   Those physicians that do report get shunned and shut out by their colleagues - bless them. Some are no longer able to practice because they actually didn’t know and used the wrong drug. Is it wrong to expect a physician to educate themselves regarding what, how and when to use new drugs?

“Who knows, one of us might save your life” or one of you may kill. I don’t like the odds here and I sure hate the win some, lose some attitude.

Doctors are human - not all alike, but, until there are regulations which hold them accountable for their actions, there will be no change. Can you name any harmful drugs on the market right now?


Oct. 21, 2010, 12:03 p.m.

fact one many kids are dead , because they give out these pills without real doctors seeing you, florida has changed the laws on this , they can only give out less then 10 pills , they have to report it to the state and now pay more fees and the state is doing stings to get these pill pushers, and to many people just taken them for the buzz, they need to stop making them and make you go to your normal doctor , close all pain clinics down for good


Oct. 21, 2010, 12:04 p.m.

i can name many bad pills on the market right now, oxy’s all of them and plenty more


Oct. 21, 2010, 12:15 p.m.

these doctors are selling the pills on the streets, they are bringing in people that never had pain or even seen a doctor for pain and writing scipts for many in fake names for the same people that are selling them , there has been doctors here in florida busted for selling them out the door of the clinic and on the streets, they have their own little drug dealers and pushers in the own pocket paying them to take them and sell them on the streets, kids are killing other kids for these pills , many kinds of oxy’s kids are breaking into homes to steal any kinda meds from anyone, and taking these pills for the buzz, its time to stop these doctors , its all about putting people on 30 kinds of pills to make money thats it.


Oct. 21, 2010, 12:20 p.m.

these doctors know that they cost about $ 40.00 dollars a script and on the street its cost about $10.00 to $15.00 dollars a pill, and most scripts are about 25, to 50 pills in 1 script, you figure it out making money off these pills on the street pays more and they were not checking these doctors or clinics at all for a long time, so to you doctors , they are going to bust your ass now baby, keep it up you will be facing a long prison term soon

F.E. Blackman

Oct. 21, 2010, 12:36 p.m.

Some of us are venters, others involve themselves in correction.  Some may do both but it seems that far too many are so busy making a living that they find time to do none of these corrective actions.  Doctors are just like the people who seek help from them.  In some instances we have a higher incidence of negative social tendencies.  There are well known docs whose lab have painted experimental rats to falsely claim genetic transmission of some tendency, others have put out “research” that they did not do.  That’s the tip of the iceberg.  A vast majority of docs is intentionally honest.  Much like the Bell curve (the real Bell curve) there is a distribution of honesty that runs from -2 to +2 standard deviations of the norm.  The similar is true for any trait, including dishonesty.  This discussion is dealing with, in my opinion, 1 and upwards standard deviation beyond the norm of dishonesty.  It is a small but powerful and influential group in sickness care.


Oct. 21, 2010, 1 p.m.

To ProPublica,

I have corrected my e mail address, it was missing a number. Sorry!

frank giramonti

Oct. 21, 2010, 3:30 p.m.

Paul Steiger, the editor in chief, took home a 2008 salary of $570,000, Mutter noted.
Steven Stephen Engelberg, the managing editor, pulled down more than $450,000 in salary total compensation.
Not bad for a non profit with federal grants.
so after a little doctor bashing, lest’s do a little editor bashing.
The pot calling the kettle black.


Oct. 21, 2010, 3:42 p.m.

This is a medical blog.  We are addressing doctors and their relationships with Big Pharma, not editors, stockbrokers or chimney sweeps. I’d prefer to discuss the medical folks. And I don’t see our comments as bashing.  We’re unveiling truths.

F.E. Blackman

Oct. 21, 2010, 4:24 p.m.

Thank you Betsy, thank you very much.  It is certainly easier to find the speck in someone else’s eye than to deal with personal visual function.  Is not that a part of the challenge….a feeling that we may have of being beyond reproach?  Look at the exorbitance in our Hospitals and so called Health Insurance systems.  Al Capone was incarcerated for less.


Oct. 21, 2010, 4:30 p.m.

I’m sorry, FE.  This is one of my more obtuse days.  Was your response to me complimentary or angry?  Your write so well, and yet I’m confused.
DO forgive me.


Oct. 21, 2010, 5:02 p.m.

ProPublica is a non profit investigative news service that has influence on public opinion. It is important the readers here how much a non profit leader is making. One million dollars between the two editors, which includes tax dollars is over the top.
Thanks frank for that info.


Oct. 21, 2010, 5:24 p.m.

Sorry, folks.  You’ve lost me.

Who is Donald, BTW?

F.E. Blackman

Oct. 21, 2010, 5:26 p.m.

To Betsy:
I was being very complimentary!  I obviously need more practice at that activity.  Thank God that you can refer to your obtuseness in terms of days.  That is allowed.  Mine is a way of life with a few moments during which I may wander from that particular fog. 
    You made an assertion that suggested that doctors need to discuss that which affects us and our reputations.  I agree with that even when it is painful.  Thanks for your compliment.


Oct. 21, 2010, 5:37 p.m.

Thank G-d!  You really had me worried.  And to think that other people have moments of obtuseness without even having FM.  That’s a signal of our disease, and frankly I prefer pain. There’s no pain med for being obtuse, however..  There’s really no pain med for FM either. 

You are a dear.  Thank you!


Oct. 21, 2010, 6 p.m.

Any psychologists who prescribe drugs on the database?


Oct. 21, 2010, 6:07 p.m.

I must say that I am one of the docs participating in this program. I am fairly new to this since I just finished all my training. I must say that it is an eye opening experience for me dealing with big pharma. Like any other companies it has pros and cons.

I do talks since it helps me get my name out in the community. Someone helps me introduce me to other physicians. This is huge when one is just starting. Who would turn down help in this way?

I only speak for companies in which I believe is a good drug. I have turned down offers from some companies since I do not believe in their pitch and drug efficacy.

This is a good opportunity for local physicans to meet subspecialitist and ask questions. In all my talks, I make sure that I give them MY opinion and the FDA’s indication for the medications. If it is my opinion, I tell them that so that I do not give them false information. This is highly regulated by the FDA.

Yes, I do feel certain tendancy to perscibe their medicine. But I have never done so in their interest but only in the interest of my patients. I don’t precribe some medications because it is too expensive. I try generics first if avaialbe to me.

Finally, like in any organization, there are bad apples and good ones. I feel that this article emphazised the bad apples.  That is too bad.

How come politicians don’t have a website which companies fund their campaign or have vested interest in them?

Doug Bremner MD

Oct. 21, 2010, 6:23 p.m.

@CB what are you going to do when you become dependent on the income because of mortgage etc and you cross their paths? It has happened many times in the past. The possible loss of income may result in a change in the tone of your presentations.

I also might note that there are a lot of academic physicians who would have been on this list a few years ago, but stopped giving talks because of changes in their university policy or because they saw these databases coming down the road (this is only past 18 months). Also this database is only for “promotional” talks to doctors, and does not include payments for consulting or serving on scientific advisory boards, which can involve equally high amounts.

Doug Bremner MD
author of
Before You Take That Pill, Why the Drug Industry May be Bad For Your Health


Oct. 21, 2010, 6:29 p.m.

Sorry, KR, Wood, but psychologists don’t prescribe at all.  They’re not MD’s.

Steve Davies

Oct. 21, 2010, 7:06 p.m.

Thanks to ProPublica for being one of few sources for authentic investigative journalism. When I had a herniated disc several years ago, I noticed that my doctor was writing me lots of prescriptions for Vicodin and other drugs, even when I told him that the drugs made me feel worse instead of better. Without apparent shame or fear, he calmly explained to me that he was in a “contest” with other doctors sponsored by the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drugs he prescribed. If he prescribed the most, he won a trip to Hawaii for him and his wife. If he prescribed at least past a certain threshold, he got lesser but still lucrative rewards. I reported him to the medical board and the hospital where he worked and was told that this is business as usual. I then researched the medical-industrial-pharma cabal and realized it’s all about profits and perks. I walked away from allopathic (regular) doctors and took control of my own health via an organic diet, serious exercise, yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture. I am healthier than anyone my age or younger that I know. I hope to never see the inside of a regular doctor’s office again, nor will I take prescription pharma or over the counter meds unless there’s absolutely no alternative. Thanks again ProPublica for busting these greedy medical malpracticioners and the corporations who own them!


Oct. 22, 2010, 4:15 a.m.

besty, i dont know were you are at. but yes they do prescibe, meds, i think you need some yourselves on here, because you all talk shit, with no true at all

Boo Radly

Oct. 22, 2010, 1:49 p.m.

Betsy Jacobson - I just got to read your comment from yesterday @12:15pm. I appreciate and agree with all your comments - but the fact that you are doing this service is commendable. I would like to read your book and hope you get it published. It must be frustrating since you know there is a great need by the public to have that information. There is a large group of floxies - who can find few or no physicians who will acknowledge that they have been crippled and so much more, by a FDA approved drug given to them by a physician against medical guidelines. Patients are scoffed at - dismissed with a wave of a hand.  Of course, there is no treatment either since it is such a mystery.  It causes FM like symptoms, amongst other illnesses. Really interested in how to compile a data base such as you have.

No one would be complaining if the drugs doctors recommend, push, claim to know are safe - actually were safe. No one wants to take their livelihood away unless they do harm. There are already legions of crippled and maimed patients - most permanently(some died needlessly). There is not enough money in the world to give them back the health they enjoyed before. It’s really shameful and that is why I say we have Third.World.Healthcare. Marginal regulations determined by a governmental dictatorship catering to corporate entities. It makes no difference what party is in “control”.

It is disheartening to read some of the comments by professionals who do not address a real point of this article. I know the existing and future economic situation will make it even worse.  Thanks for your input Betsy.


Oct. 22, 2010, 3:09 p.m.



Oct. 22, 2010, 4:15 p.m.

“Fred Eshelman, who has been convicted of fraud, and is the ceo executive chairman at Pharmaceutical Product Development, a contract research organization, has donated, in the past few weels, more than $3.3 million to, a 527 conservative group that has funded negative ads in various US Senate races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Apparently, his donations constitute most of what the group has raised this year, according to third-quarter data analyzed by CPR, which reported the contributions on its Open Secrets blog. His largesse follows more than $5.4 million he donated to the group during the final months of the 2008 election (see here). A 527 group, by the way, is a tax-exempt organization that is usually established to influence elections and have a First Amendment right to raise and spend money as they wish so long as their actions are not coordinated with a candidate or a political party.

The ads supported by have opposed Republican-turned-independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist in Florida, as well as Democratic Senate candidates in Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Nevada, Kentucky and Colorado, CPR found. In the 2008 election, helped fund ads attacking President Barack Obarma (read this). Ernest Mario, a PPD board member and a former ceo at Glaxo and Alza. He currently heads Capnia.”  This is from the PharmaLot Blog.


Oct. 22, 2010, 4:35 p.m.

Thank you, Boo Radley, for your very kind words. they were particularly comforting today when I read an article in the Rheumatologist, the house organ of the ACR (Amer.College of Rheumatology) written by its president.  I clearly am still able to be shocked.  The ACR’s annual meeting is coming up and the pres outlined, in detail, all the work he and the org are doing to enhanc e their relationship with - - - - - -  industry.  Not Big Pharma, not pharma, not the pharmaceutical industry.  Industry with a small i.  Industry, distressed, of course, by the “increasingly stringent environment surrounding CME activites and the firewalls betw. commercial supoporters and CME”  have pushed for a variety of options that will replace some of their old practises, and the ACR heartily endorses their requests.  And the ACR is not the only medical “trade” group to be re-looking at its relationship with Big Pharam. The Amer. Heart Assoc. is another one.

Drugs, meds, & pharmaceuticals are also words never mentioned in this long article. Interesting, no?  Twice the word PhRMA Code was mentioned.  Here’s one of those “mentions:”
“Since the revised PhRMA Code took effect in 2009, companies have sought new and different ways to have effective and engaging interactions with physicians.”  I’LL BET THEY’RE ENGAGING.

The pres., however, bothered to write that he is very proud to announce, however, that in preparation for this upcoming annual meeting one won’t find pens in the exhibit hall. A round of applause, please.  This was his way of saying that Big Pharma isn’t totally buying the members’ affections. Nor will the ACR be offering noneducational items such as tote bats, lanyards, or luggage tags “as support opportunities.”  Who pays for them, anyway?


Oct. 22, 2010, 4:39 p.m.

That’s tote baGs.  Not baTs, ‘though that might be interesting too.

N.F. M.D.

Oct. 22, 2010, 4:51 p.m.

We used to go to these talks weekly as residents solely for the free steak dinner.  No one paid much attention to the talk or asked questions.  We would endure the lecture politely while nursing our cocktails… and then dig in!  Those were otherwise lean times for us.

However, one speaker actually instructed the waiters not to serve us until someone asked a question!  There was a lengthy and uncomfortable silence.  I was foolish enough to raise my hand.

The central study in his talk was one in which 80% of the patients dropped out prior to completing the study.  They were not included in the final analysis which supposedly showed the efficacy of the drug (Zelnorm; which is now good as dead).  I asked why they dropped out and shouldn’t they have been included in the analysis?  He didn’t answer and left the podium in a huff.  We proceeded with our dinner.  Fortunately, the Zelnorm rep sitting next to me and paying for our dinner was too dumb to understand what we were talking about.

Anyone who thought they were going to these talks to learn something is missing the point.  We all went to have a nice meal on someone else’s dime.  It’s marketing, not education.  It was great as a resident who couldn’t otherwise afford weekly filet mignon, but I shudder to think that docs out in practice actually take these talks seriously.

The experience I describe above is the last such dinner I ever attended.


Oct. 22, 2010, 4:59 p.m.

Betsy-I guess you haven’t heard that many psychologists have ‘prescription privileges-gained after completing additional course of study. Darryl is right -you are wrong. An MD is not needed for the range of drugs available to them.PhD in most cases plus CE studies.I don’t know whether you all need meds yourselves or necessarily ‘talk shit’ but Darryl has as much right to his opinion as anyone else.The problem with shooting from the hip as you did is that you have shown a basic ignorance of the facts of the matter-something that Darryl has called you out on.

Betsy Jacobson

Oct. 22, 2010, 5:25 p.m.

I lvoed your response, Dr. NF.  It’s so on target!

However, this is my last response to this blog. I have been wrong before, and I was delighted to find out that psychologists DO have prescription writing privileges which they didn’t have before, but teaching someone this and accusing them of denying someone else the privilege of expressing themselves which I did not do are 2 different things.  I never denied Darryl the right to his opinion.  I never replied to his nasty blogs at all.  I’m not interested in doing that.  I don’t shoot from the hip as you accused me of.  Being wrong is something, I guess, we all do, as do I, and I love learning what’s right.

This is my last email ever on this blog.  If anyone wishes to contact me directly via email, please ask ProPublica how do to that.

Moreover, I’m not going to read any of your responses to this response.  I work too hard to have garbage slung at me for all my hard work.


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