Drugmakers’ Business Practices Draw Scrutiny
Three top California Medicaid officials in charge of pharmacy issues failed to disclose trips paid for by drug-industry funded business groups, California Watch/San Francisco Chronicle reports. Officials who are directly involved in setting drug policy and negotiating payments took about 12 trips paid for by these nonprofit business groups. The nonprofits hold conferences such as the those attended by the Medicaid officials and raise their money through fees from drug representatives who attend conferences, too.
A spokesman for California's Medicaid agency said drug representatives do not try to influence officials at these meetings. In one case, panels at one meeting ended by 11 a.m., giving way to a full schedule of socializing and networking events (Jewett, 3/1).
Another drug industry practice that's come under scrutiny is the hiring of doctors to promote medicines, the Buffalo News reports. For instance, one Buffalo diabetes specialist earned $79,037 in the first nine months of 2009 from Eli Lilly to discuss the company's products at 69 events. "Drug and medical device companies, as well as the doctors they pay to speak or consult, consider the programs educational and the fees fair compensation for the physicians' time and knowledge." A push by lawmakers, state governments, and medical schools to make such arrangements more transparent has led some companies to disclose them (Davis, 2/28).