Big Pharma Paid Doctors In South Florida

Now that Eli Lily is reporting the payments to doctors peddling Eli Lily products, the Sun Sentinel, out of Broward County, just published an article, Doctors’ speeches on brand-name drugs can net thousands, on doctors from south Florida lecturing for drug companies. Bravo Sun Sentinel! Perhaps other newspapers will now follow suit in helping to expose the machinations of these companies and their medically trained sales teams.

She’s (Dr. Donna Holland) one of 24 doctors in Broward and Palm Beach counties who were paid a total of $200,000 in speaking fees from Lilly in the first three months of 2009. Payments made to 3,400 doctors nationwide were disclosed as part of a settlement with the federal government over the company’s illegal marketing practices.

The list casts a spotlight on a widespread, legal but controversial practice of drug and medical companies paying doctors to give speeches about products to other doctors. Critics, including health experts, members of Congress and some doctors, say the speakers may change the drugs they prescribe based on who’s paying them, and the doctors in the audience are exposed to a sales pitch disguised as teaching.

Then there is the issue of ‘off-label’ uses of pharmaceutical products.

Lilly last month disclosed its $22 million in payments in the first quarter of this year to the 3,400 doctors who are called the Lilly faculty. The company paid a $1.4 billion penalty as part of its January settlement with the government. That amount was dwarfed by Pfizer’s $2.3 billion settlement on Sept. 2 for similar violations, which also requires disclosing physician speaking fees. Both cases centered on company actions that illegally promoted drugs for “off-label” uses, those not approved by federal officials.

Some of these doctors are reported to be making tens of thousands of dollars from giving lectures, purportedly educational, for the drug companies. Sometimes the doctor is doing so for more than one drug company. There are obvious conflicts of interest here between a doctor’s concern for his or her patients’ health and a doctor’s financial ties to a drug company. The question is, does the physician care more about the monies he or she receives from a drug company than his or her patients’ health, and would this subsidiary income cause him or her to suppress the truth regarding what was in the best interest of his or her patient to please his or her drug company bosses. Well, the answer is obviously yes, as long as the physician is getting paid to peddle the pharmaceutical company product.

One of the biggest under covered stories of our times concerns the very real and physical damage that is being done to people by some of these psychiatric drugs. When the collusion of the doctors with the pharmaceutical companies in the selling of these products is revealed, maybe we are coming closer to dealing with this tragic set of circumstances. While some of these drugs often do poorly next to a placebo in clinical trials, others are much less benign, and have been shown to cause actual changes in brain structure. This is just one more reason why exposing these doctors ties to the pharmaceutical industry is so much of the moment. When this relationship is revealed, other options, such as safe, holistic, and humane alternatives to conventional psychiatric treatment, have that much more of a chance at success.

2 Responses

  1. With all the side effects associated with these psych drugs, why do we even take the time to put people on them. Costs twice as much to get them off as it does to get them on. Who’s making money on all these cases?

  2. Punjwani, Segal and Compass Health Systems make it, at the expense of Florida children’s lifes. Two deaths and counting, Villamar and Myers.

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