Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Big Pharma Buys Doctors-Again!

AP story featured on MSNBC.com shows physicians on state advisory panels getting big bucks from pharmaceutical companies. Big pharma stands to gain from influence peddling with these doctors "who help select which drugs are used in Medicaid programs for the poor and disabled."

Those panels, most comprised of physicians, hold great sway over the $28 billion spent on drugs each year for Medicaid patients nationwide. But aside from Minnesota, only Vermont and Maine require drug companies to report payments to doctors for lectures, consulting, research and other services.
An Associated Press review of records in Minnesota found that a doctor and a pharmacist on the eight-member state panel simultaneously got big checks — more than $350,000 to one — from pharmaceutical companies for speaking about their products.

The two members said the money did not influence their work on the panel, and the lack of recorded votes in meeting minutes makes it difficult to track any link between the payments and policy.

But ethical experts said the Minnesota data raise questions about the possibility of similar financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and advisers in other states.

Greed in the medical field is unending, and yet we the public are content to gripe and moan and groan and not much more. Leadership in congress and the executive branch is essential to bring solutions to the table for the sake of real health care. And voters have the clout to bring that about.

But really, one would think there would be a moral compass at play somewhere, wouldn't one?