In Georgia, a state appeals court in 2004 upheld a hospital’s decision to kick Dr. Donald Ray Taylor off its staff. The anesthesiologist had admitted giving young female patients rectal and vaginal exams without documenting why. He’d also been accused of exposing women’s breasts during medical procedures. When confronted by a hospital official, Taylor said, “Maybe I am a pervert, I honestly don’t know,” according to the appellate court ruling.
Last year, Taylor was Cephalon's third-highest-paid speaker out of more than 900. He received $142,050 in 2009 and another $52,400 through June.
The Chicago Tribune (10/19, Graham) reports that "doctors are drawing an extra paycheck...for speaking to other medical professionals about pharmaceutical products at company-sponsored, company-scripted events in Illinois and across the country."
"Let's be honest: The purpose of these talks is to influence doctors to buy a company's drugs," said Eric Campbell, an associate professor of health policy at Harvard Medical School.The Tribune adds that drug companies have started "publicly releasing data about their relationships with physicians, information that until now has been a closely guarded secret." While most doctors received small payments, "pharmaceutical data show that 11 Illinois physicians each earned more than $100,000 between January 2009 and June 2010 from seven companies," and an "additional 13 medical providers earned between $75,000 and $100,000, primarily for participating in speakers' bureaus and educational forums." The Tribune goes on to detail views on both sides of the "medical moonlighting" practice.
Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, criticized the speaking arrangements, saying they posed "a conflict of interest" and threatened to put doctors' "own financial benefit before that of the patients who trust them."
The Boston Globe (10/19, A1, Kowalczyk) reports on its front page, "The Harvard brand, unrivaled in education, is also prized by the pharmaceutical industry as a powerful tool in promoting drugs," and "its allure is evident in a new analysis of all publicly reported industry payments to physicians." Data show that "doctors and researchers affiliated with Harvard Medical School collected 45 percent of the $6.3 million given to Massachusetts doctors in 2009 and 2010 by seven pharmaceutical companies that disclosed their payments for parts of those years. The money was mostly for talking to other physicians about the companies' drugs and the diseases they treat, but also for consulting on research and marketing." Notably, "doctors said they created their own presentations" initially, but "now, companies generally make them, and they are reviewed by" the FDA.