If you're a doc who's been sanctioned, you might think it would hurt your career just a bit.
Well, don't be such a worrywart--because if Big Pharma doesn't care, why should you? Those silly reprimands won't hurt your chances of scoring big as a consultant, speaker or adviser.
Disciplined? Don't worry. Warned, fined or restricted? Not a problem. Suspended? Fuggedaboutit!
None of these things appear to matter to the drug companies -- because a new report by ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news agency, finds nearly 300 sanctioned docs raking in the dollars.
The list includes 70 doctors with multiple sanctions or disciplinary actions in more than one state, and 21 doctors with three or more actions against them.
Dozens have even been suspended.
One doc who had been cited and fined took in $274,822 from drug companies in 2009 and 2010--and he wasn't the only one earning big money. Of the 292 disciplined docs cashing Big Pharma checks, 17 of them earned six-figure payments.
Of course, the drug companies were all shocked -- shocked! -- to find these docs on the payroll, and they've vowed to take... well... not-so-immediate action.
An Eli Lilly spokesman told Pro Publica that the report "raised valid and important questions, which we have taken steps to address," including an outside firm that will look into docs starting next year.
AstraZeneca and Pfizer said they were looking into it. Glaxo said it doesn't routinely check for disciplinary actions.
But in some cases, the companies don't even have to look-- all they have to do is ask.
"They didn't bring it up, and I didn't volunteer it but if they asked, I would have been forthcoming," Long Island psychiatrist Richard Schloss, who was paid to speak on behalf of Pfizer's antipsychotic drug Geodon, told WNYC.
Schloss's license was suspended in 2001, and he was placed on probation for five years, for supplying Vicodin to drug addicts.
As bad as this list is, it's actually incomplete--it looks at payments from the seven biggest companies to docs in the 30 biggest states. It doesn't include data from the 20 smaller states... or the nearly 70 other drug companies that haven't disclosed their payments yet.
Expect to hear more on this... and don't expect it to be very positive--unless you're a disciplined doc looking for new ideas to earn money during your "time off."