Shrinks for sale: Psychiatrist makes $22,500 in 3 months doing “educational” drug speeches for Eli Lilly

Lilly last month disclosed its $22 million in payments in the first quarter of this year to the 3,400 doctors who are called the Lilly faculty. The company paid a $1.4 billion penalty as part of its January settlement with the government. That amount was dwarfed by Pfizer’s $2.3 billion settlement on Sept. 2 for similar violations, which also requires disclosing physician speaking fees. Both cases centered on company actions that illegally promoted drugs for “off-label” uses, those not approved by federal officials.

Bob LaMendola
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
September 19, 2009

Boca Raton psychiatrist Donna Holland spent a day this month in San Antonio talking to doctors about the hyperactivity drug Strattera for manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co.

Her pay for that 45-minute speech: $1,500 plus expenses.

She’s one of 24 doctors in Broward and Palm Beach counties who were paid a total of $200,000 in speaking fees from Lilly in the first three months of 2009. Payments made to 3,400 doctors nationwide were disclosed as part of a settlement with the federal government over the company’s illegal marketing practices.

The list casts a spotlight on a widespread, legal but controversial practice of drug and medical companies paying doctors to give speeches about products to other doctors. Critics, including health experts, members of Congress and some doctors, say the speakers may change the drugs they prescribe based on who’s paying them, and the doctors in the audience are exposed to a sales pitch disguised as teaching.

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