Local doctors accept thousands in drug-company dollars

LANCASTER – Twenty-seven doctors in Lancaster accepted more than $200,000 from 12 pharmaceutical companies, between 2009 and early 2011, for meals, speaking engagements, research, and travel.

This information comes from a database of drug company disclosures published by ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism.

In its report titled Dollars for Docs, How Industry Dollars Reach Your Doctors, ProPublica reports:

Drug companies have long kept secret details of the payments they make to doctors and other health professionals for promoting their drugs. But 12 companies have begun publicizing the information, some because of legal settlements. ProPublica pulled their disclosures into a database so patients can search for their doctor. Accepting payments isn’t necessarily wrong, but it can raise ethical issues.

ProPublica’s database, which was updated in September of 2011, reveals that the 12 drug companies (whose combined prescription drug sales amounted to about 40 percent of the U.S. market in 2010) made more than $89.4 million in payments to California doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals between 2009 and the first quarter of 2011, for consulting, speaking, research and expenses.

Lancaster tops the list in the Antelope Valley for doctors accepting drug company dollars. According to the data, 75% of the more than $200,000 paid to Lancaster doctors came from Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis, known for such drugs as Prozac, Cialis (erectile dysfunction), and Cymbalta (depression, anxiety disorder). Eli Lilly agreed in 2009 to pay $1.4 billion to settle criminal and civil allegations that it promoted Zyprexa (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) for unapproved uses.

The data lists the top three doctors in Lancaster receiving payments from drug companies between 2009 and early 2011 as:

1. Anthony Dulgeroff M.D. (Endocrinology)/ High Desert Medical Corp.

  • Received – $103,129
  • Paid from: Eli Lilly
  • For: Research

2. George Perdikis M.D. (Pain Medicine)

  • Received – $37,126
  • Paid from: Eli Lilly and Cephalon
  • For: Meals, travel, speaking

3. Sanjaya Khanal M.D. (Cardiology)

  • Received – $36,534
  • From: Eli Lilly
  • For: Speaking

In Palmdale, the data shows seven doctors who received $250 or more from drug companies between 2009 and early 2011 for a combined total of $5,113.

Topping the list for Palmdale doctors are:

1. Ricardo Tan M.D. (Allergy/Immunology)

  • Received – $2,000
  • Paid from: GlaxoSmithKline
  • For: Speaking

2. John Kaufman M.D. (Orthopedics)

  • Received – $931
  • Paid from: Eli Lilly
  • For: Travel

3. Kain Kumar M.D. (Internal Medicine)

  • Received – $764
  • Paid from: Pfizer
  • For: Meals

Recently enacted legislation will require all drug companies to report payments and gifts to doctors worth more than $10, beginning next year. This information will be made public by early 2013.

To read all 38 stories in the “Dollars for Docs” series by ProPublica, click here.

Has your health professional received drug company money?

To search ProPublica’s database of doctors who received drug company dollars, enter a name, affiliated business, institution, or city in the first box. And select the state in the second box, then click submit.