Who Is Your Doctor Really Working For?

If you rely only on the popular media for critical information about your health, you’ve probably missed some critical information and you”ll want to check out National Public Radio’s series “How To Win Doctors And Influence Prescriptions” before checking in the next time with your favorite doctor and happily accept the prescription he or she offers – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130730104.

And, to better protect yourself from his/her – perhaps needless – offer or a prescription that will not help you but might serve to enrich him/her, turn to ProPublica.com’s report “”Doctors on Pharma Payroll Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials.” Propublica examined the records of seven companies, covering $257.8 million in payouts since 2009 for speaking, consulting and other duties. http://www.propublica.org/article/dollars-to-doctors-physician-disciplinary-records

The NPR series investigates how drugmakers systematically select physicians, referred to as “thought leaders” – Big Pharma public relations lingo for “shills” to speak on behalf of their products. NPR notes one case in which a high-prescribing physician received $1,500 to speak and, following his presentation wrote an additional $100,000 to $200,000 in prescriptions for the pating drug company.

ProPublica cites the case of pain physician William D. Lead; the Ohio medical board concluded that he he performed “unnecessary nerve tests on 20 patients and subjected some to “an excessive number of invasive procedures,” including injections of agents that destroy nerve tissue. Nonetheless, despite the this information being posted on the board’s public website, Big Pharma’s eli Lilly and Company used him as a promotional speaker and advisor – paying him $85,450 since 2009.

And then there’s the Pennsylvania doctor James I. McMillen. In 2001 the U.S. food and Drug Administration ordered the doctor to stop “false or misleading” promotions on the painkiller Celebrex, saying he minimized risks and touted it for unapproved uses. But the rheumatologists also managed to collect $224,163 over 18 months – shilling to other physicians for three other leading drug makers about their products.

Especially important for all patients is the ProPublic search that will allow you to determine if your physician has received money from drug companies for speaking or research. Click in your physician’s name and state – http://projects.propublica.org/docdollars – and the data base provides information on the almost $258 million distributed to 17,700 healthcare providers by AstraZeneca, Cephalor, GlazoSmithKline, Eli percent of the $300 billion U.S. market in 2009. The available date is from payments made in 2009 and 2010. While most of the money went to physicians, nurses and pharmacists are also included and practitioners names and addresses are listed as the companies released them. Because some providers may have similar names, it is important to check addresses and verify with your healthcare provider if he/she is the person actually listed on the databank.

Wise healthcare shoppers will review all of the NPR series and log in both the NPR and ProPublica sites into their favorite Web sites – to facilitate quick checks on their doctor’s records and backgrounds before heading out the door to any doctor’s office.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.
7740 Southwest 52 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33143
(305) 271-0973 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (305) 271-0973 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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