Drug companies spent over $14 million from 2010 to 2013 to “woo” California doctors who specialize in treating foster children, according to part three of an ongoing investigation by San Jose Mercury News. “Drugmakers distribute their cash to all manner of doctors, but the investigation found that they paid the state’s foster care prescribers on average more than double what they gave to the typical California physician,” reported Mercury News. The physicians who prescribed the most psychiatric medications to foster children received almost four times as much in cash and gifts as the lower-frequency prescribers.
The situation raises concerns that “unsuspecting youth have been caught in the middle of a big-money alliance that could be helping to drive the rampant use of psychiatric medications in the state’s foster care system,” stated Mercury News.
John Murphy, assistant general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, described the situation to Mercury News as a “robust dialogue” between industry and physicians in support of “medical innovation.”
“These figures suggest these doctors are not looking out primarily for the kids’ interests,” UCLA social welfare professor (and MIA Blogger) David Cohen told the Mercury News. “They suggest many doctors are looking out for their financial interests, and we should all be wary.”
One physician receiving substantial payments from the drug industry told Mercury News that, “My conflict is essentially neutralized because I speak on almost all brand-name drugs.”