Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Could your doctor be a salesperson in disguise?
Seven major pharmaceutical companies recently revealed lists of independent doctors on their payrolls, primarily to give educational and promotional speeches about their products.
Independent investigative news group ProPublica compiled these names into a public database, intended as a starting point for conversations between patients and their doctors.
Seventeen of the doctors on the list practice in Monterey County: Monterey physicians John F. Bennetts, James Chu, John Robert Donaldson, Georgina Heal, John Koostra, Terrance Moran and John Anthony Shaheen; Salinas doctors Allen B. King, Sabah I. Al-Marashi, Richard Gerber, Daniel More, Steven Prager, Robert Revers, Guadalupe P. Bravo, Lewis Cantor and Thomas Allen Mustoe; and Carmel-based Don C. Guiroy.
All of the local doctors listed were asked for comment; only King responded by the Weekly’s deadline. King was paid $26,594 in 2009-10 to give professional education speeches, according to ProPublica.
“This is not sales,” King says. “My speeches are the only way some doctors learn about medications that can be very beneficial for their patients.”
ProPublica maintains that patients have the right to know if their doctors receive money from big pharmaceutical companies, and whether that influences their care.
But King doesn’t see his involvement with Eli Lilly as a conflict of interest. “As for the money,” he says, “I really didn’t make a cent due to missed work and travel expenses.”