Thursday, October 21, 2010

From ProPublica: The Seamy Side of Pharma Speakers' Bureaus

In a previous post I provided the link to the new ProPublica database on drug company payments to physicians. ProPublica, in partnership with the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and others, has been mining the database for important information, some of which appears at:

Some of their key findings:
  • Many of the highest-paid docs in the company speakers' bureaus have records of numerous licensing violations and other practice and research misconduct
  • Further evidence that being on a speakers' bureau has nothing to do with speaking--Cephalon records showed that that company dismissed great speakers who did not personally write enough scripts for their drug, and retained lousy speakers who were voluminous script writers, showing that the fees were more of a reward for high prescribing than anything else
  • Bribery is turning out to be equal-opportunity--though most of the names listed are physicians, a few pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and dietitians are making it onto the list
  • Many physicians who work for institutions that have officially banned participation in speakers' bureaus nevertheless remain active, showing that these rules are seldom enforced

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