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Harry Cassin
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Docs collect billions for drug promos

ProPublica ran an exposé this week about big bucks for doctors who promote products for drug companies.

A Nashville psychiatrist led the pack, earning more than $1 million during the past four years for promotional talks and consulting for seven drug companies.

The investigative report by ProPublica’s Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein said 15 drug makers paid more than $2 billion to hundreds of thousand of physicians for promotional speaking, research, consulting, travel, meals, and related expenses since 2009.

The story named 22 doctors who made more than $500,000 since 2009 giving talks and consulting for drugmakers.

A couple of years ago in a post called the Novartis speakers bureau, we talked about those payments. If doctors at government owned or managed hospitals overseas are involved, we said, there could be FCPA violations.

Pfizer and a subsidiary paid $60 million last year to resolve FCPA offenses. Among other things, it paid doctors from European hospitals illegal travel and accommodation expenses.

And late last year, Eli Lilly paid $29 million to settle FCPA civil charges brought by the SEC involving payments to government-employed doctors overseas.

Other pharmas known to be facing FCPA investigations include AstraZeneca, Baxter International, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Covidien, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Sciclone Pharmaceuticals, and Teva.

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