Large pharmaceutical companies often hire doctors to promote their drugs. These doctors conduct “educational” seminars to address the benefits and risks of medications, which are criticized for paying doctors to impartially present views in order to market a drug. Research done by ProPublica and National Public Radio has revealed that many of the doctors on drug company payrolls aren’t actually specialists, which questions their roles as consultants.
The investigations have revealed the extent of the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the medical community. Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Cephalon, AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline have all made payments to doctors totaling over $257.8 million since 2009. State medical boards have cracked down on hundreds of doctors receiving payments who have insufficient credentials and now face charges of misconduct.
Doctors and their relationships with companies were previously kept secretive, but the names of 17,000 doctors are now in a database, “Dollars for Docs,” so patients can see if a doctor is paid for promotion of medicines they prescribed to patients. Of those named, 384 received payments equaling more than $100,000 in the past year-and-a-half, averaging out to approximately $5,000-$6,000 a month.
As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, I hope investigations into paid doctors who market drugs to the public continue, and more drug companies reveal names of physicians who they employ.