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Several of the huge pharmaceutical companies listed in ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs investigation say that they will screen the doctors they pay more closely after ProPublica revealed that more than 250 doctors paid to promote drugs had sanctions against them for misconduct.

ProPublica’s investigation compiled a list of payments to physicians for speaking about pharmaceutical companies’ drugs or for consulting work. The data comes from seven drug manufacturers, released in compliance with various lawsuit settlements.

Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and AstraZeneca all say they are looking at new methods of screening doctors involved in promoting their drugs to ensure that disciplinary actions do not go unnoticed. Other large pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, have not yet addressed the issue of paying doctors who have been sanctioned for misconduct.

Consumer advocates remain concerned about drug companies paying doctors to speak on behalf of drugs that may be found to be dangerous later on, such as Avandia, Accutane, and other drugs that have caused pharmaceutical injuries. For example, Dr. James McMillen of Pennsylvania received a warning letter from the FDA in 2001 for false or misleading promotion of the arthritis drug Celebrex. McMillen was paid to speak about Celebrex on behalf its manufacturer, then called Pharmacia Corporation (now merged with Pfizer).

In his presentation, McMillen made inaccurate claims and minimized the risks associated with Celebrex. Research has since shown that Celebrex may pose similar risks to Vioxx, which has been the subject of numerous pharmaceutical injury lawsuits. Over the past two years, McMillen has received at least $249,390 from pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, Cephalon, and Johnson & Johnson.

If you or someone you love has been injured or sickened by a prescription drug, please contact Long & Long today for a free case evaluation.

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